Tuesday, August 9, 2011

California bans jurors from utilizing social media to discuss their cases

California recently banned jurors from texting, Facebook posting, and Tweeting about their cases. Specifically Bill AB 141, "requires the court, when admonishing the jury against conversation pursuant to these provisions, to clearly explain, as part of the admonishment, that the prohibition of the use of electronic or wireless devices applies to all forms of communication, electronic research, or dissemination of information about a case. The bill would require the officer in charge of a jury to prevent any use of an electronic or wireless device to communicate, research, or disseminate information about a case".

In September of 2009, I wrote about San Francisco Superior Court's rule that went into effect in January of 2010 that addressed most of the issues that California's new law covers. In December of 2009 and January of 2010, I discussed how Facebook Friending by the jury in Baltimore Mayor Sheila Dixon's corruption trial may have affected the final outcome of the matter. Therefore, the passage of this type of law is overdue.

California's new law will take effect in January 2012 and it will make it a misdemeanor for jurors to use electronic or wireless devices to research or communicate with others about their cases during jury duty. Other states may want to review this law to determine if it makes sense for their jurisdiction.

To learn more about these issues you may contact me at www.shearlaw.com.

Copyright 2011 by the Law Office of Bradley S. Shear, LLC. All rights reserved.



4 comments:

  1. Thanks for posting on this.

    The link that you provide leads to an analysis of the bill prepared by legislative staff during the committee process, rather than to the bill itself. You and your readers can see the final text, as passed and signed by the Governor, at this link [PDF].

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  2. Mr. Wallace,

    Thank you for reading the post, notifying me of the error, and sending me the correct link. My apologies for the incorrect link. I will update the post with the proper link.

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  3. Bradley, this seems like a no-brainer. But it also seems like another unnecessary law. Couldn't the court just tell jurors as part of the process that electronic communication is included as part of the prohibited communication? Maybe develop this as part of an internal guidance document rather than a state law? Or is this more likely a legislator's role - tacking on as many bills as possible on the resume?

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  4. Jesse, I am not in favor of creating an unnecessary law. However, in some courts the jury form may contain a warning about using electronic platforms to discuss a case, while in other courts the judge may discuss these issues with the jury, while in other courts these issues may not be addressed. Therefore, I believe this was an attempt to create uniformity throughout California.

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