Monday, August 3, 2009

Lawyer-Juror-Blogger Sanctioned In California

From the California Bar Journal:

[An attorney] was suspended for 18 months, stayed, placed on two years of probation with a 45-day actual suspension and was ordered to take the MPRE within one year. The order took effect Jan. 23, 2009.

[The attorney] stipulated that as a juror in a felony trial, he failed to maintain respect due to the courts by not disclosing that he is an attorney and he improperly posted comments about the trial on his blog.

[He] was impaneled on a jury hearing a trial in which the defendant faced five felony burglary charges. He had closed his law practice prior to the beginning of the trial and worked for a wireless communication technology firm. He did not disclose during voir dire that he was an attorney.

The judge cautioned jurors not to discuss the case both in writing and orally. Nonetheless, [he] posted an entry on his blog that identified the crimes, the first name of the defendant and the name of the judge, whom he described as “a stern, attentive woman with thin red hair and long, spidery fingers that as a grandkid you probably wouldn’t want snapped at you.”

He also noted, “Nowhere do I recall the jury instructions mandating I can’t post comments in my blog about the trial. (Ha. Sorry, will do.) So, being careful to not prejudice the rights of the defendant — a stout, unhappy man by the first name of Donald …”

[His] action resulted in the court of appeal vacating the judgment in the case and remanding it back to the trial court.

In mitigation, he cooperated with the bar’s investigation and he had no prior discipline record.

(Mike Frisch)

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Comments

Doesn't sound like any First Amendment arguments were made.

Stephen

Posted by: FixedWing | Aug 3, 2009 10:08:52 AM

There should be no question about the inappropriateness of what this attorney did. We learn the rules of professional conduct for a reason, and no matter what the jury instructions say, he should have known better.

Posted by: GJELblogger | Sep 14, 2009 4:02:17 PM

I have stood jury duty no less than 10 times in Southern California. I'm 62 years old and sick of it. But every year comes a jury summons. After serving 10 times, and being a Viet Nam Veteran, I believe I have served my country honorably and don't feel I owe this country any additional service currently, especially since government steals half of everything I make. I would like to know if any of you learned professionals would be willing to explain that on my behalf to the people who control the jury summons process . I am of course willing to pay your fee.

Posted by: Cliff Riddlebarger | Nov 9, 2009 1:31:18 PM

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