Are IPhones Causing Mistrials Nationwide?

According to a report in Tuesday's New York Times , there have been at least three cases nationwide--in journalism, three = TREND!--that point to what may become a larger problem: jury members using iPhones, BlackBerries, and other mobile devices to access the Internet, including Facebook and Twitter, during a trial. The resulting jury contamination can be used as a reason for throwing out the case and starting over.

The piece says that a federal trial in Florida this week had to be declared a mistrial as eight of the twelve jurors had been doing research on the case on the Internet.

The week before, "a building products company asked an Arkansas court to overturn a [US]$12.6 million judgment, claiming that a juror used Twitter to send updates during the civil trial."

A similar incident happened in Pennsylvania on Monday--the defense lawyers asked the judge in a federal corruption case trial of a former Pennsylvania state senator that a mistrial be declared because one juror had posted updates on Facebook and Twitter.

I've never been on a jury, but if I did, I'd probably have my iPhone close at hand. So I can totally understand the temptation to do online searches about a court case, or heck, even Twitter about it. That said, this really does go against that whole centuries-old traditions of jurisprudence thing.

So, this begs the question--how long until someone lets loose an iFart in a courtroom?

Related:
Shop ▾
arrow up Amazon Shop buttons are programmatically attached to all reviews, regardless of products' final review scores. Our parent company, IDG, receives advertisement revenue for shopping activity generated by the links. Because the buttons are attached programmatically, they should not be interpreted as editorial endorsements.

Subscribe to the Best of TechHive Newsletter

Comments