Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Lawyer Demands Jury Stops Googling

CmdrTaco posted about 5 years ago | from the justice-has-no-wifi dept.

The Courts 517

coomaria noted an unsurprising story about how courts are having problems with jurors Googling during cases. As anyone who has ever been called for jury duty knows, you aren't allowed to get outside information about the case you are hearing, but apparently the iPhone makes it far too easy to ignore this advice. A lawyer is trying to get jurors to sign a form explicitly stating they won't "use 'personal electronic and media devices' to research or communicate about the case." Of course, I'm not exactly sure why a juror should need to sign something for your iPhone but not a newspaper.

cancel ×

517 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

Score (-1) Off-topic (5, Insightful)

Verteiron (224042) | about 5 years ago | (#29453943)

"Not aloud"? "To easy"?

Is there an editor in the house?

Re:Score (-1) Off-topic (3, Funny)

hey (83763) | about 5 years ago | (#29453981)

Axing 4 pooper speeling is allot.

It is proper spelling. (0, Offtopic)

Auroch (1403671) | about 5 years ago | (#29454037)

I speak AAVE, you insensitive clod!

Re:Score (-1) Off-topic (0, Offtopic)

Yvan256 (722131) | about 5 years ago | (#29454001)

Yes there is, but he can't spell.

Damn SMS and IM is killing all languages all over the planet. And don't tell me that "languages evolve", this is de-evolution. Just because words sound the same when spoken aloud doesn't mean they describe the same thing. Example: too != to != two, etc.

Re:Score (-1) Off-topic (3, Insightful)

timeOday (582209) | about 5 years ago | (#29454085)

Damn SMS and IM is killing all languages all over the planet.

The submitter's errors aren't SMS-isms, they're just plain old poor English.

Re:Score (-1) Off-topic (0, Offtopic)

Yvan256 (722131) | about 5 years ago | (#29454221)

When you're used to doing shortcuts with your most used tools, you start doing it everywhere.

Re:Score (-1) Off-topic (0, Offtopic)

jeffmeden (135043) | about 5 years ago | (#29454121)

Yes there is, but he can't spell.

Damn SMS and IM is killing all languages all over the planet. And don't tell me that "languages evolve", this is de-evolution. Just because words sound the same when spoken aloud doesn't mean they describe the same thing. Example: too != to != two, etc.

No such thing as de-evolution. If language is moving in a direction determined by natural selection promoting good features and demoting bad features, it is forward evolution. Evolution cannot move backward just as time cannot move backward. On top of that, poor spelling and poor grammar has been around since, well, the invention of spelling and grammar. The bottom line is that just because you don't like the changes that are happening, doesn't make them bad. If you think proper spelling is important (I am not saying that it isn't) then you should make a case, not a complaint.

Re:Score (-1) Off-topic (4, Insightful)

R2.0 (532027) | about 5 years ago | (#29454401)

"If you think proper spelling is important (I am not saying that it isn't) then you should make a case, not a complaint."

Ok, how about this: proper spelling is a sign of a writer's respect for the reader off his work. Misspellings are jarring to the flow of reading comprehension, and are a way of saying "I don't want to put in the labor of proofreading, but I don't mind if you have to work harder to read it." In some literature, that is the intent, but the vast majority of the time it is simply carelessness.

Re:Score (-1) Off-topic (3, Insightful)

commodore64_love (1445365) | about 5 years ago | (#29454473)

Okay.

If spelling changes then we'll no longer be able to read Shakespeare's plays, our founding documents the Declaration and the Constitution, or great works of literature like A Tale of Two Cities. By affixing spelling and stabilizing it, you preserve access to the past generations' writings. By allowing changes, you end-up with incomprehensible documents such as this:

Bifil that in that seson, on a day, In Southwerk at the Tabard as I lay, Redy to wenden on my pilgrymage, To Caunterbury with ful devout corage, At nyght was come into that hostelrye, Wel nyne and twenty in a compaignye, Of sondry folk, by aventure yfalle, In felaweshipe, and pilgrimes were they alle, That toward Caunterbury wolden ryde. The chambres and the stables weren wyde, And wel we weren esed atte beste; And shortly, whan the sonne was to reste, So hadde I spoken with hem everichon, That I was of hir felaweshipe anon, And made forward erly for to ryse, To take our wey, ther as I yow devyse.

Re:Score (-1) Off-topic (-1, Offtopic)

DarrenBaker (322210) | about 5 years ago | (#29454131)

Languages evolve. Just because your sense that what's correct is what's current doesn't mean it is. It will change, and in hundreds of years, will be seen as we fee olde englifh now. You can't stop the bum's rush.

Re:Score (-1) Off-topic (-1, Offtopic)

DarrenBaker (322210) | about 5 years ago | (#29454169)

Just because your sense that what's correct is what's current doesn't mean it is.

See, my language is evolving right before your eyes.

Re:Score (-1) Off-topic (5, Funny)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | about 5 years ago | (#29454267)

Damn SMS and IM is killing all languages all over the planet.

Damned SMS and IM are killing all languages all over the planet.

Re:Score (-1) Off-topic (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29454335)

lol wut? u mus b old an wut u thnk is irrlvnt to modrn ppl

Re:Score (-1) Off-topic (0, Offtopic)

name_already_taken (540581) | about 5 years ago | (#29454039)

"aren't aloud" is obviously some legal term for not being allowed to speak aloud in court to get outside information. As in "The jury aren't aloud."

It's obvious to anyone willing to take guesses at legal terminology.

I'm pretty sure "res ipsa" is a refreshing fruit-flavored beverage served in the judge's chambers.

I'll not mention what the judge's "chambers" means, since this is a family-friendly discussion.

Re:Score (-1) Off-topic (-1, Offtopic)

ArhcAngel (247594) | about 5 years ago | (#29454041)

MOD points JUST expired! Kaahhhnn

Re:Score (-1) Off-topic (-1, Offtopic)

Chris Mattern (191822) | about 5 years ago | (#29454127)

Also pronoun trouble, should "a juror" and "his iPhone" and not "a juror" and "your iPhone". Jurors are not asked to sign statements about my iPhone (of which I don't even have one).

Re:Score (-1) Off-topic (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29454155)

allowed - permitted

aloud - in an audible voice...

Re:Score (-1) Off-topic (0, Offtopic)

gsslay (807818) | about 5 years ago | (#29454261)

Ye Gods, never mind the spelling, the entire passage is a travesty. Three sentences. The first sentence sets off without bothering with the formality of a capital letter. The second sentence is an unstructured marathon stream of information, randomly sprinkled with commas. And the third sentence switches from third person to second half way through for no apparent reason.

Re:Score (-1) Off-topic (0, Offtopic)

clone53421 (1310749) | about 5 years ago | (#29454417)

I forgave the first sentence, since it began with a handle which is, presumably, "correct" in lowercase. If you began a sentence with the name "e.e. cummings", I'd similarly forgive you for not using a capital letter.

The last sentence is unforgivably atrocious, I agree. However, I think your counting skills need to be re-honed.

Re:Score (-1) Off-topic (0, Offtopic)

clone53421 (1310749) | about 5 years ago | (#29454285)

Heh. They're already fixed. They also fixed the quote nesting, which was strangely using single quotes on the outside and double quotes on the inside (instead of the other way around, as is conventionally done).

Now my pedantry has to gravitate to the lesser complaints I had, such as "ignore this advice" in referring to what is definitely a rule, not advice. I'm not sure why "a juror" would have to sign something for my iPhone, either (I don't even have one!).

ALOUD !! CAN YOU HEAR ME ALOUD !! (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29453949)

That's allowed !!

Spelling (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29453957)

"aloud"? Shouldn't that be "allowed"?

Newspaper (1)

Capt.DrumkenBum (1173011) | about 5 years ago | (#29453961)

IIRC, newspapers are censored for jurors.

Re:Newspaper (1)

Cro Magnon (467622) | about 5 years ago | (#29454011)

What about TV? Especially in OJish cases where every TV on the planet is blaring about it!

Re:Newspaper (0, Troll)

Kell Bengal (711123) | about 5 years ago | (#29454115)

Only TVs in the US. I'm very pleased to say that the US is not yet the world.

Re:Newspaper (2, Informative)

Spazztastic (814296) | about 5 years ago | (#29454281)

What about TV? Especially in OJish cases where every TV on the planet is blaring about it!

When you're a juror you're not supposed to really watch TV. A friend is about to give a victim's statement on a murder case and she isn't allowed to discuss the facts of the case, watch TV, call anybody about it, read the newspaper, or do just about anything that could skew her opinion on the case. Sure, you can watch Happy Days reruns on TV Land if your shitty motel 6 room that the district attourney set you up in has it, but when you're flown out of state to give testimony on a case and you have nothing to do but sit in a hotel room it's pretty boring. I told her to bring books. Lots of books.

Re:Newspaper (1)

clone53421 (1310749) | about 5 years ago | (#29454311)

Yes. In important cases, they won't even let the jurors go home. They put them up in hotels. They're not allowed to speak to the press, watch TV, listen to the radio, read the newspaper, ... basically any interaction with the outside world is forbidden for the duration of the trial.

Re:Newspaper (1)

CyberLord Seven (525173) | about 5 years ago | (#29454391)

Of course, I'm not exactly sure why a juror should need to sign something for your iPhone but not a newspaper.

You beat me to it so I'll just add my two cents. :)

Newspapers are supposed to be written by professional journalists with professional standards. The articles those journalists write are then supposed to be edited by editors with years, if not decades, of experience. The internet, in contrast, is full of air-bags with no professional standards.

Allowing jurors to be exposed to what is written on the internet is far more likely to bias jurors than what is written in a newspaper, in theory or course.

Re:Newspaper (2, Funny)

InlawBiker (1124825) | about 5 years ago | (#29454437)

No, apparently only The iPhone is capable of mobile Internet magic with the Google mothership. Before The iPhone there was no way to ruin a fair trial with outside information, because it was too difficult to reach any sort of outside information at all, of any type on any medium. Also, the magical aura of The iPhone is so blinding that the jurors are too distracted to hear explicit legal instructions from the judge.

Or perhaps they're smarter than we think. Next time I want to get out of jury duty I'll just stare at my phone until I'm dismissed.

Just confused? (3, Interesting)

hansamurai (907719) | about 5 years ago | (#29453967)

Maybe they're just trying to figure out what all the complicated legalese being thrown out by both sides is supposed to mean by checking out Wikipedia or Findlaw?

Re:Just confused? (4, Informative)

Nukenbar (215420) | about 5 years ago | (#29454133)

That's is why a jury is allowed to ask questions and ask for read back of testimony during jury deliberations. A juror might google segregation, read the first sentence or two, and think that Plessy v. Ferguson [wikipedia.org] is still good law.

Re:Just confused? (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29454189)

The courts should have good references available about legal terms and laws. Of course even these can be interpreted differently, so really the jurors should be able to ask a question and have both sides respond to the question openly. I don't know how they currently do this, but it might be helpful to have a wikilaw-like resource that the jurors would have access to, so they could read up a bit on law. But does a trial by jury necessarily require the jurors to understand the law? I think that is kind of why we have jury trials, so that the accused can be judged by the common sense at the time. But I could be really wrong about that.

Re:Just confused? (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29454237)

I think if you'd ever been on a jury you would know that trial attorneys typically dumb down arguments and presentations to a level that would shock most slashdotters (e.g., "if the glove doesn't fit, you must acquit.") IAAL and it's sad to reduce complex (and interesting) technical issues into baby talk so 8 unemployed people from the mall can pick a winner in a million dollar business dispute.

Re:Just confused? (1, Informative)

pauljlucas (529435) | about 5 years ago | (#29454239)

Lawyers tend not to do that, or at least explain it. They're fully aware that jurors aren't lawyers. But, if a juror is confused for any reason, s/he is supposed to submit written questions to the judge. I did exactly that when I served on a jury.

As a former Juror... (4, Informative)

MarkusH (198450) | about 5 years ago | (#29453971)

You're not supposed to read the newspaper either.

Re:As a former Juror... (5, Insightful)

oldspewey (1303305) | about 5 years ago | (#29454093)

While a newspaper may contain some high-level information about the case (and that's assuming you don't live in a jurisdiction with publication bans - in which case the newspapers will have nothing at all), having a web-enabled device allows you to look up background information, similar cases and their outcomes, the recently-created facebook group named "fry that bastard", and literally dozens of other ways to colour your perception of the facts being presented in the courtroom.

Re:As a former Juror... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29454439)

Yes we wouldn't want anyone to color anyone's perception of any facts, of law or of the circumstances of the case, would we?

No wait, that is what the attorneys are doing and I expect news bans and Google bans are lawyers attempting to protect their income streams.

You see, the whole idea of "law" was supposed to be for a code to bind a society together by making every member capable of some action affecting others to follow a simple set of clear rules, which, again by definition, were to be simple enough to be memorized in entirety by everyone. That is why Hammurabi had the thing carved in stone and placed at public squares, so that "ignorance of the law" was not an excuse for breaking it.

The moment however when the "law" becomes so complicated and ambiguous that it requires someone to "interpret it" (i.e. twist it to whatever whim of the moment is fanciful) the whole concept breaks. In short a society which needs lawyers, is by definition lawless, as "law" has morphed from the universal code of conduct to a byzantine, convoluted, religious scripture which requires a career priesthood to worship, massage, "interpret" and twist to the needs of whatever power caste is running the place at the time. The average denizen then simply becomes hapless prey for this caste of parasites with no recourse but to prostate himself/herself before the high-priests of "law" who hold the strings of the citizen's life or death in their hands.

Ultimately, in a country of lawyers, by lawyers and for lawyers, the laws become such a sick caricature of the original idea that no one knows the "law" to its full extent, including all of its priests. One can test this simple supposition by simply asking any one of them to recite the "law" of the land from memory. In the USA, not only no lawyer, judge or politician could do it (even though the "law" is supposedly binding everyone and its ignorance is "no excuse") but they would not be able to tell you what the current definitive law is at all, even when given the ability to use books and databases to do it, as the code has become so byzantine that its successive layers upon layers of modifications and arcane religious language are so completely unmanageable that pretty much any "legal" decision needs an arbitrary "interpretation" by a cabal of priests.

And this is why the majority of people instinctively hates lawyers, as even if most people cannot vocalize it, an average person's intrinsic moral compass is able to detect that something is profoundly wrong with the very idea of a lawyer.

Re:As a former Juror... (1)

BryanL (93656) | about 5 years ago | (#29454289)

There are several comments making the same point as yours, but since you are the highest rated I will respond to you. I think the point of the summary wasn't that newspapers are allowed, it was that newspapers aren't allowed, but jurors don't need to sign any special forms to say they won't read them. If You don't sign anything special for a newspaper, why should you have to for an iPhone?

Re:As a former Juror... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29454329)

Also as a former juror,

    You're only supposed to know about the little box of stupid either attorney wants you to know about. Never mind that what they show you might be incomplete, inaccurate or a flat out lie. On the trial I was a part of, the defense called a witness who knowingly perjured herself. Everyone else knew (prosecution, defense, law enforcement), but we had no way to know. It was laughingly revealed in the juror "exit interviews". What a circus.

Re:As a former Juror... (1)

pilgrim23 (716938) | about 5 years ago | (#29454339)

Indeed. Dilbert has far more truth then the lawyer.

Re:As a former Juror... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29454445)

Then how are people supposed to relieve the boredom of the trial?!
Sudoku isn't allowed either... http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/7447627.stm [bbc.co.uk]
I wonder if sleeping is OK? I always find myself drifting off when someone starts spouting legalese.

Oh I get it. (3, Funny)

RealErmine (621439) | about 5 years ago | (#29453975)

It's a Microsoft case, right?

Re:Oh I get it. (4, Funny)

PinkyDead (862370) | about 5 years ago | (#29454077)

Bing!

Re:Oh I get it. (1)

ArhcAngel (247594) | about 5 years ago | (#29454145)

I can't get that damn sound out of my head. Stop it!

Re:Oh I get it. (1)

oodaloop (1229816) | about 5 years ago | (#29454179)

Ned Ryerson! Ned the Head? Needlenose Ned? BING! I dated your sister until you told me not to? BING!

Re:Oh I get it. (1)

Yvan256 (722131) | about 5 years ago | (#29454303)

I have a strange feeling of déjà vu...

Because (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 5 years ago | (#29453977)

using an news paper to research is more difficult, not as up to date, and if sequestered that won't have on delivered.

Re:Because (1)

MozeeToby (1163751) | about 5 years ago | (#29454355)

I'd say it's more because there's now a group of people who cannot function at their full capacity without ready access to the web. A group of people for whom the internet has become an off site long term memory, slower than your regular one but much larger and much more reliable. I'm not saying that's a bad thing, it's entirely possible that their full capacity is significantly above the rest of the populations, only that they feel somewhat crippled without access to that information.

After all, there are very few questions that one cannot find the answer to online and it's possible to get a fundamental education in nearly any field online. If I were sitting on a jury of an interesting case I know I would want to look up the basic laws being applied and into any precedents discussed by the lawyers. It's just the nature of our connected society. The problem is that the knowledge gained that way is often superficial and occasionally just plain wrong, not to mention it opens up the possibility of the juror learning specifics about the case that they aren't meant to know; which is why the jury needs to be reminded not to research the case themselves.

If jurors were aloud... (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29453979)

...then hearing the lawyers would be deafened, rendering justice blind.

Re:If jurors were aloud... (1)

Yvan256 (722131) | about 5 years ago | (#29454333)

Stop monkeying around [wordpress.com] !

Twitter (3, Funny)

rehtonAesoohC (954490) | about 5 years ago | (#29453989)

I'm surprised twitter hasn't come up as an issue before this...

"just ruld guilty 4 life LOL pmita prison!"

Re:Twitter (3, Informative)

Panseh (1072370) | about 5 years ago | (#29454067)

Actually... [slashdot.org]

Heaven forbid... (1, Troll)

Auroch (1403671) | about 5 years ago | (#29454007)

Yes, we must stop people from informing themselves with the relevant issues. If they were to make informed decisions about court cases, how will the RIAA make money off file sharers?

Re:Heaven forbid... (2, Insightful)

lastomega7 (1060398) | about 5 years ago | (#29454151)

Yeah, the media is always accurate. We should revamp the entire judicial system to be run by the media. The correct ruling is always the most sensationalist. No need to make sure both sides of the case have equal voice.

Re:Heaven forbid... (1)

sconeu (64226) | about 5 years ago | (#29454487)

And Nancy Grace should be in charge of it all.

I swear that woman drives me crazy.

Re:Heaven forbid... (4, Insightful)

Smidge204 (605297) | about 5 years ago | (#29454191)

If you're ever on the defending end of a case, would you REALLY trust people to "inform themselves" about your case? From the internet, of all places? It's bad enough people watch CSI and end up in a jury box honestly thinking that's how forensic evidence really works.

We can't even trust people to "inform themselves" about national issues like health care reform - something that would actually effect their own lives, let alone make or break yours.

Confiscate the damn phones at the door.

On a lighter note: don't forget that with only a few exceptions, the ones who end up in a jury are the people too stupid to get out of it. :)
=Smidge=

Re:Heaven forbid... (5, Interesting)

TheRaven64 (641858) | about 5 years ago | (#29454271)

On a lighter note: don't forget that with only a few exceptions, the ones who end up in a jury are the people too stupid to get out of it. :)

I don't know why this is on a lighter note; this is a real problem. People on juries are people with a strong sense of social responsibility and people too stupid to get out of it. You can probably guess the ratio of the former to the latter. Given how important a functioning judiciary is to society, jury service really ought to be better rewarded, so competent people don't have such a strong incentive to get out of it.

Re:Heaven forbid... (2, Insightful)

pavon (30274) | about 5 years ago | (#29454225)

Yes, I want the people deciding my fate to make their decision based on what they heard about the case on Fox News rather than information that meets reasonable criteria to be considered evidence.

Re:Heaven forbid... (1)

Shakrai (717556) | about 5 years ago | (#29454353)

I hate to break it to you but I would have ruled against the most recent file sharer if I had been on his jury and I'm certainly more well informed about the actions of RIAA than most people.

His defense boiled down to "it was fair use for me to share 800 songs with thousands of people I don't know". Then he went on the stand and not only admitted to everything he was accused of, including lying during the discovery process. He has no one to blame but himself for his current predicament. The rest of us should hate his guts for pushing the issue and making bad case law that will harm those who actually have a competent legal strategy and case.

The jury deliberated for less than three hours as I recall. That should tell you something.

More Work (2, Insightful)

anglophobe_0 (1383785) | about 5 years ago | (#29454013)

If they don't stop this behavior, Police who testify will have to use something more convincing than a quote from Wikipedia to put someone behind bars.

Re:More Work (2, Funny)

Spazztastic (814296) | about 5 years ago | (#29454319)

If they don't stop this behavior, Police who testify will have to use something more convincing than a quote from Wikipedia to put someone behind bars.

I don't know, I'm still waiting on a police officer to testify and use the Chewbacca Defense [wikipedia.org] .

all about power (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29454035)

informed juries are inconvenient for judges and lawyers who want total control of the system

lawyers want to pretend they are necessary, when well written laws could be understandable without them

judges are petty tyrants ruling over their little fiefdom with an iron fist, and any action outside of their direct control is considered a threat

our whole system of justice is so full of bugs it needs to be scrapped and rewritten from the ground up, but nothing short of a revolution will really change anything

Jammer/Scrambler (1)

GerardAtJob (1245980) | about 5 years ago | (#29454049)

Just use something like this http://www.tayx.co.uk/products.html [tayx.co.uk]
It's pretty cheap...

Re:Jammer/Scrambler (1)

Lumpy (12016) | about 5 years ago | (#29454175)

Ok those rock, and for the price they rock really hard. I want one for the rare times I go to the movies or to a quiet restaurant.

Thanks for the link!

i have an idea (0)

FudRucker (866063) | about 5 years ago | (#29454061)

why not an impartial wiki on each case moderated by some group of people that are not associated with either the defendant or his lawyers, and not associated with the district attorney & his council, because we all know how each party in a case will misconstrue and twist the truth until the line between the truth and outright lies is blurred to incomprehensible.

if a truly impartial wiki was available it would possibly save a lot of time and prevent wrongful convictions, and also prevent the the real culprit from being found not-guilty.

Re:i have an idea (2, Insightful)

tehcyder (746570) | about 5 years ago | (#29454245)

if a truly impartial wiki was available

If there were such a thing as absolute impartial truth available, you wouldn't need a jury in the first place, just a computer to say "yes" or "no".

Re:i have an idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29454251)

if a truly impartial wiki was available it would possibly save a lot of time and prevent wrongful convictions, and also prevent the the real culprit from being found not-guilty.

Well we can't have that. That would go against centuries of laws and interests created specifically for the purpose of wrongfully convicting people and preventing the real culprit from being found not-guilty.

In a legal system where the judge can (and have done so) choose to ignore a piece of 100% irrefutable evidence and instruct the jury to choose based on carefully selected facts instead of all of the facts, you can't expect 'fair' or 'impartial' and will of course end up with the conviction the judge wants.

/bitter

Re:i have an idea (3, Insightful)

Kell Bengal (711123) | about 5 years ago | (#29454259)

This is a naive idea.

Concepts like impartiality are nice, but the only people we trust to be impartial in practice are judges who are carefully appointed after much review - and we all know how technically literate they are.

If you had a third party do this, who would moderate the biases of this group? And who will moderate them? And how do you keep them from influence from outsiders with vested interests? And how do you prevent incremental factual distortions introduced by successive paraphrasing (eg. 'telephone' whispers)? And how will they even decide what is relevant to the case without introducing selection bias?

If jurors were smart enough to do it themselves, great! They can decide what evidence and facts are important to the case they are hearing. If you have non-judiciary third parties involved you're just opening a huge can of worms.

Re:i have an idea (1)

fridaynightsmoke (1589903) | about 5 years ago | (#29454381)

moderated by some group of people that are not associated with either the defendant or his lawyers, and not associated with the district attorney & his council,

What, you mean like some kind of "jury"?
Do you intend that this "jury" write up a document, to be read by the jury? Maybe the original jury can than write a document to be read by yet another jury- infinite jury recursion!

What about the "CSI Effect"? (4, Interesting)

HockeyPuck (141947) | about 5 years ago | (#29454069)

IANAL, but my cousin is and her husband is a police officer, and one of her biggest complaints is that jurors are now expecting evidence to be collected and more importantly processed along the lines of the tv show CSI. Where DNA results are turned around in an hour and even bullets collected in the pouring rain can still be matched to a national gunpowder manufacturer database.

Re:What about the "CSI Effect"? (4, Insightful)

Lumpy (12016) | about 5 years ago | (#29454137)

It's not the CSI effect, it's the "most Americans are stupid" effect.

Honestly, Most can not tell the difference between Fantasy on TV and reality. this is why a jury in a technical case is not a "jury of your peers" unless the jury is compromised of IT and CS people.

Re:What about the "CSI Effect"? (0, Flamebait)

geekoid (135745) | about 5 years ago | (#29454325)

Bullshit. American are not stupid. No more then any other country.

"jury of your peers" doesn't means what you think it means.

Re:What about the "CSI Effect"? (3, Interesting)

DarrenBaker (322210) | about 5 years ago | (#29454403)

I'll take twelve less-intelligent peers than one intellectual elected official any day.

Re:What about the "CSI Effect"? (1)

mkettler (6309) | about 5 years ago | (#29454457)

Actually, I would propose that it's not just failure to tell the difference between fantasy and reality (ie: accepting fantasy as reality), but general failure to draw the lines at the appropriate spots.

I've often seen real facts treated like fantasy. Probably just as often as fantasy being treated like reality.

Re:What about the "CSI Effect"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29454491)

Maybe I'm affected by TV shows too much too, but wouldn't lawyers avoid selecting jurors who are smart and informed (and thus less easily manipulated) during jury selection, resulting in more stupid jurors on average?

Why this is a good thing (5, Insightful)

Richard W.M. Jones (591125) | about 5 years ago | (#29454083)

If jurors search online for information about the case or the defendant, then it makes it harder to maintain the presumption of innocence.

For example, the media might report all sort of information about the case: the defendant had previously been seen hanging around the schoolyard, the defendant was "known to police", he was convicted of a similar crime 20 years before, etc.

Some of this information might be true, and some of it might not be true. If it's raised during the court case, then it can be rebutted by the other side. If it's just speculation printed in the media and found out by the jurors from their hotel room, the defence might not know what they have to rebut.

Of course .. this is going to get harder and harder as computers and the internet become more and more pervasive.

Rich.

Re:Why this is a good thing (5, Interesting)

uffe_nordholm (1187961) | about 5 years ago | (#29454321)

There is an easy way around this: let the jurors ask questions to any witness they like, and demand clarification of any facts they need explained in more detail. And let them do this at any time before delivering their verdict, be it while the witness is still in the stand or much later.

Since both the DA and defence council are obviously biased one way or the other, letting the jury do some fact-finding of their own seems reasonable to me. (Caveat: I live in a country that does not use a jury system, so my proposal might entail problems I cannot forsee. Instead of a jury, Sweden has a system in which volunteers are elected to serve in four year periods. All courts are presided over by a judge, who obviously has legal training, but the other people needn't have it).

Re:Why this is a good thing (3, Informative)

clone53421 (1310749) | about 5 years ago | (#29454489)

The defense and prosecution attorneys are biased against each other and both will be experts in questioning witnesses. Together, they do a better job of grilling the witnesses than the jury could hope to do. All the jury has to do is listen, take notes, and come to a decision.

Re:Why this is a good thing (3, Informative)

pavon (30274) | about 5 years ago | (#29454343)

To add to this excellent post, it is also critical as a means of keeping law enforcement in line. If the police obtain evidence by means of unlawful search and seizure, the judge can and should ban that evidence from being presented in court. It isn't banned from being printed in the media though; free speech and all.

Re:Why this is a good thing (1, Insightful)

Rich0 (548339) | about 5 years ago | (#29454419)

A better approach would be this:

1. Illegally-siezed evidence is fully admissible. If somebody commits a crime then police error should not be a reason to excuse the crime. The nature of the discovery of the evidence should also be disclosed to the jury.

2. Officers who illegally-sieze evidence should be seriously punished - I'm talking serious fines or jail-time. It should be illegal to perform an illegal search (well, uh, duh). This needs to be taken seriously, and penalities need to actually be applied the vast majority of the time. Officers wouldn't perform illegal searches if it was 90% likely that it would land them with a $20k fine or a year in prison.

Re:Why this is a good thing (2, Insightful)

Rich0 (548339) | about 5 years ago | (#29454459)

This is why people need to be taught about the nature of sources and their bias. That applies in both the voting booth and the jury room.

If I Googled a case and found press reports, I'd probably be fairly skeptical of the information, or I'd at least look at how it was actually obtained. Granted, I'm not necessarily a typical juror. However, it is possible for an educated juror to weigh outside info in making their decisions.

In any case, as you point out at some point these problems are going to become inevitable - unless net access is pervasively monitored. When we all have implants in our heads that make the internet an extention of our memories, how do you ask a juror not to "remember" anything they didn't hear in the courtroom?

Courts don't like Jurors (2, Interesting)

Rich0 (548339) | about 5 years ago | (#29454087)

The law hates jurors in the first place - all those non-professionals who evaluate things in terms of right and wrong and not on the pure bases of compliance with appropriate legal loopholes.

It seems like the modern court system starts with the assumption that jurors only mess things up. Then it has rules of evidence so that the jury is given precisely the right information so that they reach the "appropriate" conclusion.

I understand the issues with expert testimony and all that. IMHO some kinds of expert decisions probably shouldn't be made by a jury at all (whether a given product did or didn't cause an injury, for example). However, the solution isn't to leave it up to a jury but to filter information to such an extent that they're forced to come up with the "right" decision. If you want to take the decision away from the jury, just do it!

Re:Courts don't like Jurors (1)

hondo77 (324058) | about 5 years ago | (#29454481)

However, the solution isn't to leave it up to a jury but to filter information to such an extent that they're forced to come up with the "right" decision.

Great idea! However, since there are two sides to every story (which is why there's a trial going on in the first place, right?), there should be a person doing filtering for each side. Yeah, and we could call those people doing the filtering LAWYERS.

Congratulations, you just argued that to change the system we should leave it the way it is. Fantastic work.

Nutty Judges... (2, Interesting)

Lumpy (12016) | about 5 years ago | (#29454101)

Last time I was sitting on a jury they took all our phones and PDA's. No electronic devices allowed.

What nutty judges are allowing the jurors to even have their phones on them? so they can be googling while sitting there? Although unless you are sequestered, you can go home and google everything you heard that day...

Yeah, I don't get it, either (1)

Qubit (100461) | about 5 years ago | (#29454451)

If you're supposed to be sequestered, I assume that they remove access to communication devices like phones, PDAs, laptops, etc..., the same way that they don't give you newspapers.

If you're not sequestered, I'm going to assume that the judge/court already instructs you not to read or look up outside information about the case and explains to you exactly what the punishment is for breaking the court's instructions.

Now given the extent to which the court tracks the actions of jurors, I'm going to assume that it's difficult if not impossible to enforce these rules. If courts are having problems with jurors disregarding these instructions, then signing a piece of paper seems like a silly step to take. Just ask the legislature to increase the penalty for breaking the rules and start enforcing the rule when it is broken.

Of course, that doesn't fix the underlying problem of people not wanting to serve on a jury. If the court increases the onus on jurors, I can imagine that many more citizens will try to get out of jury duty. I don't think anyone has a solution for an apathetic citizenry!

iPhone but not a newspaper (2, Informative)

malignant_minded (884324) | about 5 years ago | (#29454109)

Perhaps because a newspaper often is more shock and awe stuff and really doesn't cover laws and loopholes as a Google searches might.

America's Got Justice (1)

drdanny_orig (585847) | about 5 years ago | (#29454199)

How about going the other way? Google could create a special search engine for legal questions, and a Wiki for evidence. Then televise all trials and allow the public at large to text in their votes. The advertising revenue could easily fund the system and perhaps some decent health care for indigents. And given the well-known WoC® (Wisdom of Crowds), we'd be assured of better outcomes. I see it as win-win-win.

Oh puhlease... (4, Insightful)

MikeRT (947531) | about 5 years ago | (#29454201)

The prosecution and defense have, for years, been trying to weed out intelligent, informed jurors especially ones that know the defendant or the victim. They claim it is necessary to keep out prejudice even while they do extremely unethical things like introducing the testimony of career criminals who have been given incentives to testilie (aka jailhouse snitches) and to keep information about the victim/plaintiff's behavior from the jury's ears lest the jury come to the conclusion that their behavior was so irresponsible that it mitigates the severity of what the defendant did.

Re:Oh puhlease... (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 5 years ago | (#29454375)

well then we should do nothing to try and make it better~

Who writes these things? (5, Insightful)

Rui del-Negro (531098) | about 5 years ago | (#29454229)

"Googling"...?

"the iPhone makes it far to easy to ignore this advice"...?

Did the iPhone suddenly invent mobile internet access? Web access has been a standard feature of every cell phone and PDA sold in the world (certainly in Europe and Asia) since years before the iPhone even existed. And is Google now somehow the only way to contact other people or read news websites?

Can these articles at least be tagged with "productplacement" or possibly "fanboysummary"?

And anyway, sequestered jurors aren't allowed to keep cellphones, while non-sequestered jurors can even watch TV, so the whole point is nonsensical.

Re:Who writes these things? (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 5 years ago | (#29454359)

iPhone is the term that is used now becasue of it's huge usage.

Language does this all the time, get used to it.

Re:Who writes these things? (1)

fridaynightsmoke (1589903) | about 5 years ago | (#29454447)

I thought the IPhone invented cellphones, batteries, touchscreens, mobile internet access, the internet, downloadable applications, radio communication at all, .....
note: I intentionally capitalised the 'I' in 'IPhone', just to piss off the sort of people who would be pissed off by that.

Great moments in court history... (2, Funny)

DarrenBaker (322210) | about 5 years ago | (#29454265)

"This verdict is written on a cocktail napkin. And it still says 'guilty'... And 'guilty' is spelled wrong!"

"I'm not wearing a tie at all."

Reason to ignore judges orders (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29454315)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ed_Rosenthal

You should always search the internet for what your case is really about. Ed was convicted by a jury that followed the judges direction and was uninformed. 5 of them recanted and called a press conference as soon as they read that his defense team had been completely gagged, unable to present that Ed had been working for the city of Oakland as a medical marijuanna grower.

You should trust yourself to make informed decisions, and not leave it up to some random judge, who most likely *will* side with the government (they appointed him afterall). Our founders created juries so we could defend ourselves against tyranny and injustice. They didn't mean for you to be guilty of it too.

Re:Reason to ignore judges orders (1)

Hatta (162192) | about 5 years ago | (#29454493)

his defense team had been completely gagged

This is the part that really disgusts me. Judges have way too much power to determine what arguments you're allowed to make.

Mistrial? (2, Funny)

oahazmatt (868057) | about 5 years ago | (#29454379)

"...the iPhone makes it far too easy..."

Need a mistrial? There's an app for that.

Keep em ignorant (1, Insightful)

kenp2002 (545495) | about 5 years ago | (#29454409)

We don't want these jurors looking up information and being educated. Just what we tell them. Period. No dictionaries, thesarus, the more ignorant and impressionable we can keep jurors the better...

Seriously, what government in their right mind wants jurors not to have resources to research what they are being told?

what's wrong with that?! (1, Funny)

ILuvRamen (1026668) | about 5 years ago | (#29454413)

How could it possibly be bad for the case for jurors to look up the defender's facebook account, find out they're a douchebag, and then find them guilty? Hell, they might have the stolen jewelry on while posing for a facebook pic. Case solved! lol. But seriously, if there's some copyright troll suing another company and the jury (well okay, juries don't go copyright trials but let's pretend they do) Googles the plaintiff and find out they're a patent troll that's abused laws and caused havoc with other companies, guess what, CASE LOST! Too bad they aren't jury trials! The judge better hop on google!

Lawyer's Rights Trump American Rights (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29454443)

Free speech. Unless it conflicts with the American Bar Association's right to drum up more business.

Then yr frakt.

Advice? (1)

DaveV1.0 (203135) | about 5 years ago | (#29454479)

you aren't allowed to get outside information about the case you are hearing, but apparently the iPhone makes it far too easy to ignore this advice.

Not getting outside information about a case is not "advice" to the jury. It is a requirement and can lead to innocent people being convicted, guilty people being set free, and mistrials.

A juror is to make his decision based on the evidence presented in court. He should not be basing his judgments on the opinions, rumors, and other information that may not true or relevant to the case at hand. The judge in a case determines what evidence and information is relevant to the case, not the jurors, not the prosecutors, and not the defense.

Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?