Juror Misconduct: Social Networking

The Winter 2012 edition of the  FDCC Quarterly includes an article called "Juror Misconduct in the Age of Social Networking."   Written by Michael K. Kiernan and Samuel E. Cooley, the article discusses how a juror’s use of social networking tools "can result in a denial of the defendant’s due process rights …."  

I guess it never crossed the mind of these gentlemen that the a juror’s use of these tools could impact the rights of plaintiffs.  

Nevertheless, the fifteen-page article has a collection of cases from around the country that discuss the impact of social networking on jury verdicts.  The subjects include public posting or tweeting about on-going trials, using social media to contact a party or a witness, improper communication among jurors, and Internet research during trial.

I cannot vouch for the completeness of the research done by the authors of this article.  I certainly can say, however, that the article is a good place to gain an understanding of these issues and provides multiple citations to case law around the country.

The Committee on Court Administration and Case Management for the Judicial Conference of the United States has a suggested jury instruction on social media.  The American College of Trial Lawyers also has issued a report and a proposed jury instruction on social networking.  The Tennessee Judicial Conference also has a pattern instruction on the topic; that instruction is not available on-line.