Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Juror Facebook Friending During Baltimore Mayor's Trial May Enable Mayor To Receive A New Trial

As a Baltimore native, I keep an active eye on all things Baltimore. I am a fan of the Baltimore Ravens, Baltimore Orioles, Barry Levinson, and John Waters. However, I am very disappointed in Baltimore's recently convicted Mayor Sheila Dixon.

Mayor Dixon was convicted earlier this month of embezzling retail gift cards that were meant for Baltimore's poor. Mayor Dixon's conviction was even discussed on Jay Leno's show. Despite Mayor Dixon's conviction, she has refused to step down and her highly respected legal team is working to overturn her conviction.

According to the Baltimore Sun, one of Mayor Dixon's legal arguments to overturn her conviction pertains to Facebook friending. It appears that several of the jurors friended each other on Facebook during the trial. This is a novel argument and I am not aware of any on point case law regarding this issue. During the past couple of years, there have been several publicized legal matters where the participants have Facebook friended each other. However, this is the first time that a high-profile case has had to deal with whether Facebook friending by jurors during a trial is considered misconduct. If Facebook friending is ruled to be juror misconduct it may be possible for Mayor Dixon's conviction to be overturned.

On September 10, 2009, I blogged about San Francisco Superior Court's court rules that go into effect in the new year regarding social media usuage by jurors. At that time, I stated that these rules should be implemented across the country. This case demonstrates the need for such rules.

A hearing is scheduled for January 6, 2010 regarding potential juror misconduct relating to Mayor Dixon's trial and I am interested in how the court will rule. Facebook friending is just one of the many social media law issues that the courts will need to address in the coming decade.

I wish all of my readers a happy and healthy new year and new decade.

Copyright 2009 by the Law Office of Bradley S. Shear, LLC. All rights reserved.