Let's rename the "The People's Court" to "The Public's Court"...I can hear it now in courtrooms across America, "You want me to give up my cell phone for an eight week trial? Maybe from my cold, dead hands!"
Jurors' smartphones upset the scales of justice
Last week, a juror in a big federal drug trial in Florida admitted
to the judge that he had been doing research on the case on the
Internet, directly violating the judge's instructions and centuries of
legal rules. But when the judge questioned the rest of the jury, he got
an even bigger shock.
Eight other jurors had been doing the same thing. The federal judge,
William J. Zloch, had no choice but to declare a mistrial, wasting
eight weeks of work by federal prosecutors and defense lawyers.
"We were stunned," said the defense lawyer, Peter Raben, who was
told by the jury that he was on the verge of winning the case. "It's
the first time modern technology struck us in that fashion, and it hit
us right over the head."
It might be called a Google mistrial. The use of BlackBerrys and
iPhones by jurors gathering and sending out information about cases is
wreaking havoc on trials around the United States, upending
deliberations and infuriating judges.