February 23, 2010
Judicial Conference's New Model Jury Instructions Forbid Social Media Use by Jurors
The Judicial Conference has drafted new model jury instructions in which a laundry-list of social networks are added to the restrictions on juror communication:
You may not communicate with anyone about the case on your cell phone, through e-mail, Blackberry, iPhone, text messaging, or on Twitter, through any blog or website, through any internet chat room, or by way of any other social networking websites, including Facebook, My Space, LinkedIn, and YouTube.
It was only a matter of time until social media was included in model jury instructions. Unfortunately, the instructions do not go far enough -- jurors need to understand why they should not post updates to Twitter describing, for example, how deadly dull the defense's expert witness was. The reasons are not necessarily obvious, and jurors deserve to know why they are being commanded to change their behavior, especially now that communicating with friends and the world in general is routine for many.
Hat tip to Wired. -- Iantha Haight, Cornell Law Library