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Juror's Tweets Overturn Trial Verdict

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the years-ago-that-headline-would-mean-something-different dept.

Social Networks 423

D H NG writes "The Arkansas Supreme Court had overturned a murder conviction due to a juror tweeting during the trial. Erickson Dimas-Martinez was convicted in 2010 of killing a teenager and was sentenced to death. His lawyers appealed the case on account of a juror tweeting his musings during the trial and because another juror nodded off during the presentation of evidence. Tweets sent include 'The coffee here sucks' and 'Court. Day 5. here we go again.' In an opinion, Associate Justice Donald Corbin wrote 'because of the very nature of Twitter as an... online social media site, Juror 2's tweets about the trial were very much public discussions.' Dimas-Martinez is to be given a new trial."

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so dumb (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38327246)

this is what we get!

Uh oh. (4, Funny)

Hartree (191324) | more than 2 years ago | (#38327252)

I've got jury duty next week.

I'll have to remember not to complain about the coffee.

Re:Uh oh. (5, Informative)

Gunfighter (1944) | more than 2 years ago | (#38327358)

Please be sure to read up on the concept of jury nullification before you go. You have more power in the jury box than any other individual in the justice system.

Re:Uh oh. (0, Troll)

swalve (1980968) | more than 2 years ago | (#38327494)

Yes, read up on it so you can make sure you and your fellow jurors don't do it. It is anathema to the concept of Justice.

Re:Uh oh. (2, Insightful)

rubycodez (864176) | more than 2 years ago | (#38327514)

bullshit, whether or not it produces or hinders justice would depend on how it was used.

Re:Uh oh. (2, Funny)

theshowmecanuck (703852) | more than 2 years ago | (#38327778)

Are you one of those guys who argues about everything so you can say "it depends" when that is implied in just about everything we state? Is life just one big set of edge cases to you? Some people generalize because generalizations work most of the time, let us get on with our lives, and don't make us look like putzes by arguing about everything with "it depends." Should I look both ways before crossing a busy street? Uhhhhh, let's see, it depends. Stop talking like you're 'tarded enough to need to wear depends.

Re:Uh oh. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38327838)

That's usually, "Well I feel like I need to offer something insightful here so I can be the brilliant contrarian and net some mod points... and the only way to do that is by puking out some bizarre edge case."

The really bad ones don't even get as far as to offer the contradictory situation. It's all just noise, and the folks that do this in the real world end up friendless.

Re:Uh oh. (5, Insightful)

rubycodez (864176) | more than 2 years ago | (#38327850)

As we move towards a police state, jury nullification can be a valuable weapon in the war for liberty against oppressive laws that should not be enforced. That is just one example out of many situations where jury nullification is a great thing.

Re:Uh oh. (3, Interesting)

grumling (94709) | more than 2 years ago | (#38328002)

It's unlikely the OP will be seated on a case that has anything to do with constitutional law.

If the OP's experience is anything like what I've had happen in the past, it involves a lot of waiting around and a general loss of faith in humanity.

Re:Uh oh. (3, Insightful)

theshowmecanuck (703852) | more than 2 years ago | (#38328096)

And the OP was saying make sure to read up on the concept so that the person going on jury duty doesn't do something nullify the jury. Having unnecessary retrials is also a bad thing, both in terms of justice and as waste of a lot of people's time and money. Doing the kinds of things that nullify a jury is anathema to justice. For example, like making and receiving tweets about a trial you are on the jury for. YOU are the one who is supposed to listen and make the verdict based on the fact of the case in front of you, not your twitter followers and their opinions (which have the possibility of influencing you). But we already know that nullification can be good or bad depending on how it is used. Just about everything we talk about depends on how 'it' is used, it is generally implied. So to argue 'it depends' all the time is pointless.

Racism, Justice, and Jury Nullification (4, Interesting)

Oxford_Comma_Lover (1679530) | more than 2 years ago | (#38327978)

On television, you get a lot of people who don't say "it depends." I'd rather have my friends say "it depends" about most things--there is nuance in life.

Especially on an issue like jury nullification, there are MASSIVE reasons why sometimes it should be used and sometimes it should not be. If your police are being abusive or your prosecutors are prosecuting people they have no business prosecuting or your legislature is passing unjust laws or your judge is not giving someone a fair trial, it may be that jury nullification is your best option as a juror.

On the other hand, jury nullification is most often used as a tool of a racist to show solidarity with a defendant from his or her race, rather than for a reasoned moral purpose. This is blatant racism and is bad.

Though the latter is more frequent than the former, the importance of the former--and the administrative problem with preventing jury nullification while still allowing the jury to have any meaningful power--is significant.

Re:Uh oh. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38327992)

It depends.

Re:Uh oh. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38327542)

The possibility of it is actually *required* for the system to be just. You appear to confused about the concept.

Re:Uh oh. (0, Troll)

swalve (1980968) | more than 2 years ago | (#38327708)

Nullification is a jury ignoring the law in favor of their personal preferences. That is not what a jury is there to do. They are not charged with weighing what the law says, only whether it applies and whether the defendant is guilty of it.

If nullification is used, then the defendant goes free and nothing is changed. The next guy who breaks that unjust law might not be so lucky. That's not justice. "The system" has the appellate process for determining the rightness and wrongness of laws. The only way to change a wrong law from the jury box is to vote to convict so that the case can be appealed up the chain.

Re:Uh oh. (3, Interesting)

TheLink (130905) | more than 2 years ago | (#38327752)

If nullification is used, then the defendant goes free and nothing is changed.

At the very least the defendant would disagree with you ;).

Re:Uh oh. (5, Insightful)

VAElynx (2001046) | more than 2 years ago | (#38327776)

Bullshit.
The precise reason the jury is allowed to do this is to make sure the law stands up to the scrutiny of the common people ,as well as to make sure whether he's guilty or not.
The next guy who breaks the unjust law has a precedent on his hands in the case you described above.
But I don't wonder.. the above opinion is exactly the sort the lawyers and judges want you to have, because they don't want any common sense injected into their meddling with justice.

Re:Uh oh. (3, Interesting)

Oxford_Comma_Lover (1679530) | more than 2 years ago | (#38328078)

But I don't wonder.. the above opinion is exactly the sort the lawyers and judges want you to have, because they don't want any common sense injected into their meddling with justice.

Not true. "Common Sense" is given a ridiculous, unjust, and unjustified weight in the courtroom. Jurors are expected to rely on their "common sense" in making their evaluations, to a point where courts will rarely let you present any evidence showing that "common sense" is wrong. Courtrooms are about narrative, about selling a story, about appealing to common sense. It doesn't matter if everyone on the jury is wrong because they have an unjustified belief in the fidelity of eyewitness testimony or of a written document. It just matters what they think. What does their "common sense" tell them about what happened?

Interestingly, laypeople and engineer types sometimes diverge significantly in their verdict. I remember one guy who was on a jury where the defendant incinerated his wife's body. Hung jury because the laypeople didn't believe he'd killed her.

Re:Uh oh. (-1, Troll)

Khyber (864651) | more than 2 years ago | (#38327786)

"The only way to change a wrong law from the jury box is to vote to convict so that the case can be appealed up the chain."

You are the perfect example of the ignorance that is happening in this country today.

Not surprising with a UID 1,000,000+ higher than mine.

Re:Uh oh. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38327888)

Wow. A UID dick size comment? You epitomize the sheer shittiness and fuckheadedness of geekdom. You are geek filth to many decimal places.

Re:Uh oh. (5, Insightful)

_0xd0ad (1974778) | more than 2 years ago | (#38327814)

Nullification is a jury ignoring the law in favor of their personal preferences.

Correct.

That is not what a jury is there to do. They are not charged with weighing what the law says, only whether it applies and whether the defendant is guilty of it.

Wrong. Absolutely and unarguably false, and quite frankly a dangerous lie.

"If a juror feels that the statute involved in any criminal offence is unfair, or that it infringes upon the defendant's natural god-given unalienable or constitutional rights, then it is his duty to affirm that the offending statute is really no law at all and that the violation of it is no crime at all, for no one is bound to obey an unjust law." -- Chief Justice Harlan F. Stone

It is not only the juror's right, but his duty, to find the verdict according to his own best understanding, judgment and conscience, though in direct opposition to the directions of the court.-- John Adams

Jury nullification is our last defense against tyranny. When the legislative branch creates unjust laws, the judicial branch allows them to stand, and the executive branch enforces them, it is the juror's moral duty to refuse to convict. That is the sole reason for juries to exist. -- Me

Re:Uh oh. (1)

bhcompy (1877290) | more than 2 years ago | (#38328014)

Yes, but people on the internet argue for jury nullification for drug dealers and the like, because marijuana being illegal is a "crime" itself.

Re:Uh oh. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38327822)

That assumes that the judges in question are willing to vote for what's 'right'. That doesn't always happen. The idea of a Jury of one's peers is that you are tried not just on the law, but also on public opinion. It's not black and white, and that's the point.

You may not think it's right, but these powers weren't put in place to be 'right'. They were put in place because they are a fundamental part of human society and nature.

Re:Uh oh. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38328040)

Jury Nullification is why we even fucking HAVE juries in the first place. When the British didn't like American juries refusing to convict obviously guilty parties under terrible fucking laws, they fought against juries. Having juries was one of the big reasons we had a revolution, and it remains the final and real check on the limitless expansion of government and tyranny.

The fact that you can be thrown off a jury for mentioning it is fucking disgusting.

Law =/= Justice (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38327676)

It is anathema to the concept of Law, not Justice.

Re:Uh oh. (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38327782)

Yes, read up on it so you can make sure you and your fellow jurors don't do it. It is anathema to the concept of Justice.

"It is not only his [the juror's] right, but his duty . . . to find the verdict according to his own best understanding, judgment, and conscience, though in direct opposition to the direction of the court.--John Adams

"The jury has the right to judge both the law as well as the fact in controversy."--John Jay (Joint-author of the Federalist Papers and first U. S. Supreme Court Chief Justice)

"I consider trial by jury as the only anchor yet imagined by man by which a government can be held to the principles of its constitution."--Thomas Jefferson

Jurors should acquit, even against the judge's instruction...if exercising their judgement with discretion and honesty they have a clear conviction that the charge of the court is wrong.--Alexander Hamilton, 1804

"....it is usual for the jurors to decide the fact, and to refer the law arising on it to the decision of the judges. But this division of the subject lies with their discretion only. And if the question relate to any point of public liberty, or if it be one of those in which the judges may be suspected of bias, the jury undertake to decide both law and fact."--Thomas Jefferson

Re:Uh oh. (1)

VAElynx (2001046) | more than 2 years ago | (#38327844)

What else will you say, Mr. Demagogue?
Quite opposite - a just law must stand up to the scrutiny of the people, it must be clearly just. Only people with behind the scenes agenda and lawyer cliques are against such a factor entering the game , because it makes subverting Justice to further their goals harder.

Re:Uh oh. (4, Insightful)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 2 years ago | (#38327864)

You are wrong. The point of a jury is to decide if the action of the defendant was something that should be punished, even if it violates the letter of the law. If the jury does not believe that the defendant's action should be illegal, it is intended that they find the defendant "not guilty". There is a valid reason that jury nullification is not talked about, if jury nullification was brought up more there would be cases where the jury found the defendant "not guilty" because he was "such a nice guy." Jury nullification is only to be used when the jury does not believe that the action in question should be a crime. Jury nullification should not be used when the jury thinks, "Yes, he did what they said he did. And, yes, that definitely should be a crime. But this guy should not be punished because I like him." The latter is too close to, "No, he did not do what they said he did, but this guy should be punished because I don't like him."

Re:Uh oh. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38328042)

You are wrong. The point of a jury judge is to decide if the action of the defendant was something that should be punished, even if it violates the letter of the law. If the jury judge does not believe that the defendant's action should be illegal, it is intended that they find the defendant "not guilty".

FTFY.

There is a valid reason that jury nullification is not talked about, if jury nullification was brought up more there would be cases where the jury found the defendant "not guilty" because he was "such a nice guy." Jury nullification is only to be used when the jury does not believe that the action in question should be a crime. Jury nullification should not be used when the jury thinks, "Yes, he did what they said he did. And, yes, that definitely should be a crime. But this guy should not be punished because I like him." The latter is too close to, "No, he did not do what they said he did, but this guy should be punished because I don't like him."

You already practically say it yourself: This arbitraryness is exactly the problem of a legal system with a jury. It breaks the concept of legal certainty and introduces peer pressure and a risk of discrimination to the court room.

Re:Uh oh. (3, Interesting)

hedwards (940851) | more than 2 years ago | (#38327504)

That's every bit as much an abuse of the system as the DA that includes questionable evidence or testimony.

When something goes to trial the plaintiff or prosecutor and the defense agree to a set of ground rules which include the jury only acting within their power and on the basis of the evidence given. Jury nullification is something which breaks the deal and makes it even harder to obtain justice as the prosecutor/plaintiff has to then worry about the opinions of the jury as to whether or not the defendant should be guilty, not whether or not they did it.

Re:Uh oh. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38327610)

> Jury nullification is something which breaks the deal and makes it even harder to obtain justice

You clearly do not understand jury nullification. It *increase* justice, it doesn't make it harder to obtain justice. The jury can refuse to convict someone of an unjust law. Many laws are either not just, or are not just when applied to a particular circumstance where other factors were involved. In such cases, the jury has the power to nullify the unjust law.

It's disturbing that so many people are unaware of their moral and ethical obligations in this space.

Re:Uh oh. (1)

munitor (1632747) | more than 2 years ago | (#38327748)

Jury nullification is a myth. The practice became widespread during Prohibition. When it saw a resurgence during the War On Drugs, judges quickly clamped down. It doesn't exist.

Re:Uh oh. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38327848)

It's explicitly given in the Georgia state Constitution that the Jury may determine both the facts and the law.

Re:Uh oh. (1)

xouumalperxe (815707) | more than 2 years ago | (#38327780)

Jury nullification can serve a higher sense of justice, and that was indeed its intended purpose. But it can just as easily be used, say, by a white jury to pardon a white man for murdering a black man.

Consider this (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38327828)

While I tend to agree with you about jury nullification, what about this?

Muslim man kils his wife because she attempts to divorce him. Jury picked from the local population, which just happens to be a mostly Muslim community, refuses to convict him of murder because they believe, contrary to the law of the land, that his actions were justified.

Food for thought.

Re:Consider this (1)

DJ Particle (1442247) | more than 2 years ago | (#38328038)

Also keep in mind that lawyers do have the right to screen jurors. If they feel a juror won't be impartial, they *can* dismiss him or her, even without stating a cause. So your scenario will likely never come to pass, as the prosecution would likely discount the majority of those jurors.

The defense also has this right.

The result is a jury that BOTH sides can feel confident will reach a fair and impartial decision.

Re:Consider this (1)

Jane_Dozey (759010) | more than 2 years ago | (#38328102)

That's certainly a possibility. I would prefer the occasional unjust (unjust IMHO anyway) outcome that sets nasty men free provided it also allows outcomes that allows good men from having their lives destroyed :)

Re:Uh oh. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38327660)

There is nothing wrong with judging the law as well. If someone doesn't think drug use should be illegal then why should it be desirable to help the DA get convictions of drug users? You talk about that as if that wasn't the whole point!

Re:Uh oh. (4, Insightful)

theArtificial (613980) | more than 2 years ago | (#38327792)

When something goes to trial the plaintiff or prosecutor and the defense agree to a set of ground rules which include the jury only acting within their power and on the basis of the evidence given. Jury nullification is something which breaks the deal and makes it even harder to obtain justice as the prosecutor/plaintiff has to then worry about the opinions of the jury as to whether or not the defendant should be guilty, not whether or not they did it.

We have a legal system, not justice. A very important distinction. Otherwise we wouldn't have DAs who are measured by their conviction rates, "success" stacked towards those with the most money, innocents executed, being held without a trial etc.

Re:Uh oh. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38327796)

That's every bit as much an abuse of the system as the DA that includes questionable evidence or testimony.

When something goes to trial the plaintiff or prosecutor and the defense agree to a set of ground rules which include the jury only acting within their power and on the basis of the evidence given. Jury nullification is something which breaks the deal and makes it even harder to obtain justice as the prosecutor/plaintiff has to then worry about the opinions of the jury as to whether or not the defendant should be guilty, not whether or not they did it.

Jury Nullification is part of the rules and upheld by the Supreme Court, not an abuse of power.

Re:Uh oh. (3, Insightful)

DarkOx (621550) | more than 2 years ago | (#38327842)

Like anything it can be abused. That is why there are 12 or more members of jury. It provides a pretty adequate check on the power of any one juror. So one crazy that thinks practically every law should never be enforced is not easily able to run away with nullification.

Nullification is rarely needed but very important to justice in those situations where the law as written fails to fairly describe a situation. Most likely because the legislators did not envision it or perhaps because a special interest *bought* it. I am glad I live in a nation where if I stood trial and 12 of my peers can agree that if they had been in my situation they'd have done the same and it would have been the right thing, I would go free.

Yes a prosecutor can decide not to bring charges, but \s?he is one person who faces all kinds of varying pressures, from different places. The jury on the other hand is 12 unknown people who's identities are hopefully not widely knowable at least until after the trial is concluded.

Re:Uh oh. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38327894)

Fuck the law. It doesn't matter what the case is, who it is, what they're being done for: vote not guilty, don't let them convict them. We need this kind of solidarity. Imagine if jurors refused to ever convict anyone because everybody collectively realised that the justice system is a load of bollocks?

Re:Uh oh. (1)

orphiuchus (1146483) | more than 2 years ago | (#38327948)

... Then criminals would be able to do whatever they wanted all the time. You know, the reason that every society on earth going back to Ur has had a justice system?

Why are Juror's even allowed to have their phones? (5, Insightful)

Osgeld (1900440) | more than 2 years ago | (#38327268)

Obviously this is becoming a problem because you don't need to be on the phone to be on the phone anymore, simple solution is to give the juror's an emergency hotline number to pass out (if the mom dies or something) and take away the damned phones during trial.

Contrary to popular belief you will not die if you are not able to operate a telephone computer device for the length of a day.

Re:Why are Juror's even allowed to have their phon (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38327326)

Or sentence the jurors to the maximum sentence possible, based on the criminal charges against the defendant.

Re:Why are Juror's even allowed to have their phon (4, Interesting)

Nidi62 (1525137) | more than 2 years ago | (#38327460)

Or sentence the jurors to the maximum sentence possible, based on the criminal charges against the defendant.

No, that's too harsh. I say that, if you are caught doing this during the course of a trial, you are removed, your replacement comes in, and you are confined for the rest of the trial. If it comes out after a trial that you did this and there is a mistrial/retrial, then you should be confined for the duration of that trial. That way people realize that this is a serious duty.

a serious duty should pay more as well (0)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | more than 2 years ago | (#38327534)

why not at least min wage + Travel costs + free lunch and if you are sequestered then at least min wage + over time pay for all hours sequestered + all meals free

jury duty pays way to low for people to care and they just want it to be over.

Re:a serious duty should pay more as well (1)

wisnoskij (1206448) | more than 2 years ago | (#38327664)

Because minimum wage is know for how well it motivates the workforce?
It would be even worse, because then people would think that they are getting paid to do a job and since it is only minimum wage that they do not have to try very hard.

But they are not, they are performing a duty to their government.

but they pay less then minimum wage (2)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | more than 2 years ago | (#38327728)

also some people can't take time out of work to do jury duty and others make up stuff to get out of it.

But at least paying more will make it go a long with it being a serious duty.

If WE want better jurors why can't we at least pay min wage or higher?

Re:but they pay less then minimum wage (2)

_0xd0ad (1974778) | more than 2 years ago | (#38327942)

also some people can't take time out of work to do jury duty

Their employer is required, by law, to give them time off for jury duty.

Re:but they pay less then minimum wage (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | more than 2 years ago | (#38328016)

even if they do some times they don't have the manpower to cover for the loss. It's more of the work load is to high to take the time off.

Re:a serious duty should pay more as well (3, Insightful)

DarkOx (621550) | more than 2 years ago | (#38327996)

I don't think you understand the word duty its something you must do. Even if you were not compensated at all it would still be your duty. Occasional jury duty is just one of the many prices we must pay for living in a free society.

Look at this way unlike your taxes, which are all to often stolen by some corporate welfare fat cat, at some justice will be done when you serve on jury.

Re:Why are Juror's even allowed to have their phon (3, Insightful)

Miseph (979059) | more than 2 years ago | (#38328004)

How about we split the difference and call it contempt of court?

You know, that crime that already exists, and doesn't run afoul of the 8th Amendment?

Re:Why are Juror's even allowed to have their phon (2)

Tsingi (870990) | more than 2 years ago | (#38327374)

Contrary to popular belief you will not die if you are not able to operate a telephone computer device for the length of a day.

My daughter disagrees with you. She has lost several phones. Each loss is superceded by a grave illness, the cure for which can only be the acquisition of another phone.

Re:Why are Juror's even allowed to have their phon (-1, Flamebait)

LingNoi (1066278) | more than 2 years ago | (#38327456)

Nice ideal but it will be lost with all the nice phones because police are scum that will steal them.

Re:Why are Juror's even allowed to have their phon (1)

xouumalperxe (815707) | more than 2 years ago | (#38327802)

Fine. Leave it at home.

Re:Why are Juror's even allowed to have their phon (1)

theArtificial (613980) | more than 2 years ago | (#38327846)

We're on /. it's not stealing, it's sharing!

Re:Why are Juror's even allowed to have their phon (4, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 2 years ago | (#38327522)

Arguably, the fact that the jurors had their phones with them provided valuable evidence of them absolutely not giving a fuck about a fairly important matter(It's only some guy being charged with murder, this isn't going to be on the test, right your honor?). In a way, it might be more valuable to leave people the means to easily and verifiably show that they are slacking off, rather than force them to slack off in more silent ways...

Seriously, tweeting about coffee and falling asleep during presentation of evidence, in a case about something slightly graver than a parking ticket?

I suppose the downside of a jury of one's peers is that one's peers are dangerously likely to be fuckwits with an attention span challenged by most commercial breaks...

So what? (4, Interesting)

pla (258480) | more than 2 years ago | (#38327284)

I can understand why jurors shouldn't receive outside information about the trial (though have a personal bone over expecting experts to magically forget everything they know for the purposes of serving on a jury).

But non-detail-bearing outbound messages? Seriously, so what? That has no effect on the actual trial or the defendant's ability to enjoy the due process of law leading to a more-or-less fair verdict.

Re:So what? (1)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 2 years ago | (#38327328)

That was my thought as well. Not only that, but the tweets in the article did not seem to reflect anything about what was actually going on in the trial. I half expect that if the defendant is convicted in the second trial his lawyers will appeal based on the jury pool being compromised because of the tweets by this juror.

Re:So what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38327348)

I was going to say.. Isn't a "discussion" a two-way connection? If Buddha speaks alone in the woods, does he have any followers?

Re:So what? (1)

orphiuchus (1146483) | more than 2 years ago | (#38327350)

A good defense attorney might argue that the very fact that the coffee wasn't very good lead to jurors not drinking it, and thusly not paying close attention during the trial.

Hopefully this guy still gets the death penalty if hes found guilty. It really does look like he murdered a 17 year old over the money in the kids pocket.

Re:So what? (3, Insightful)

Torinir (870836) | more than 2 years ago | (#38327382)

However, the judge has to consider the possibility that the juror may have received DMs on Twitter that may actually impact the trial. This is why jurors are sequestered in the first place, to prevent outside communications from impacting the jury's decision.

Re:So what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38327390)

Because twitter is obviously send only. Nowhere within twitter can you actually see other tweets, much less tweets related to to your own.

And I am sure that this has no effect on the actual trial either:
"another juror nodded off during the presentation of evidence."

Re:So what? (4, Insightful)

Nidi62 (1525137) | more than 2 years ago | (#38327410)

I can understand why jurors shouldn't receive outside information about the trial (though have a personal bone over expecting experts to magically forget everything they know for the purposes of serving on a jury). But non-detail-bearing outbound messages? Seriously, so what? That has no effect on the actual trial or the defendant's ability to enjoy the due process of law leading to a more-or-less fair verdict.

How do you know the juror hasn't already been compromised, and is sending out information regarding the direction of deliberation in a predetermined code? For all you know, "the coffee here sucks" could mean that the deliberation is going against the way the tampering party wants. Hell, it could even be code aimed at a news outlet so that they can get the scoop, by knowing what the verdict is trending towards beforehand? And if information can go out, information can be going in as well. If a juror has access to his twitter account, he has access to anyone who associated them with that account (like a follower), or targets him with a post. The goal of rules such as this is to attempt to avoid any appearance of impropriety or impartiality, whether there is any or not.

Re:So what? (1)

grim4593 (947789) | more than 2 years ago | (#38327616)

Eh, Jury Duty does not pay enough to own me for the entire duration of a trial. Sure, I will go out of my way to avoid finding out information about the trial in the name of impartiality but I will be damned if they want to make me a prisoner in my own body while I get an unpaid vacation from work.

Re:So what? (4, Insightful)

Anonymus (2267354) | more than 2 years ago | (#38327770)

Jury duty is not a paying job, it's your duty (hence the name) to help keep a just society functioning.

If anything, your payment is living in a land that isn't (yet) totalitarian. Avoiding jury duty is as bad for society as skipping out on paying taxes.

Re:So what? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38328008)

The whole thing is a farce. You "duty" shitheads are the biggest saps walking the planet.

You know how I get out of jury duty? I give intelligent answers during the jury selection phase. Scum defense attorneys excuse me before I finish a sentence, usually when I state my occupation in satcom research and development. They can't get me the fuck out of that courtroom fast enough.

But you keep believing the farce with little stars in you eyes, you useless geek fuck.

Re:So what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38328094)

Too bad you don't give intelligent answers at other times.

Re:So what? (1)

DriedClexler (814907) | more than 2 years ago | (#38327890)

Paranoid much?

How do you know that the who-could-fall-for-this ads in Time magazine aren't code for sleeper agents?

Re:So what? (1)

Registered Coward v2 (447531) | more than 2 years ago | (#38327424)

(though have a personal bone over expecting experts to magically forget everything they know for the purposes of serving on a jury).

You don't have to - you are given a set of facts and make your decision based on that; but your experiences and knowledge is part of the deliberation process. What you can't do is use prior knowledge about the case to reach a verdict - so saying " I read that you couldn't get from A to B in 30 minutes" is not OK, using your knowledge of how fast a car can go to decide someone couldn't have done that is OK.

Re:So what? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38327450)

How do you get a fair verdict when one of the jurors fell asleep and the one looked at a murder trial as some mundane routine. Those jurors had someone's life in their hands and that's how they approached the trial? It's disgraceful and both of them should seriously rethink their entire lives. It's pathetic and the defendant absolutely deserves a second trial with jurors who take their responsibility seriously.

Re:So what? (2)

pla (258480) | more than 2 years ago | (#38327634)

How do you get a fair verdict when one of the jurors fell asleep and the one looked at a murder trial as some mundane routine

For one, it very clearly shows that they had no emotional involvement in the outcome. If I ever found myself as the defendant in such a case, I'd take disinterested jurors over passionate ones in a frickin' heartbeat.

As for falling asleep, I will agree that goes a bit too far. That said, I don't know that I'd do any better listening to lawyers babble for hours on end in a language that sounds like English but has only a superficial resemblance thereto. After a week, or three, or more, of that - Could you honestly claim that you'd give "let's ask the same question again with one word changed" your full attention, just after lunch and after the asshats in the hotel room above yours partied until 2am?

Re:So what? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38327458)

If the judge tells jurors not to make public statements while the trial is underway, and they post ANYTHING on Twitter, they should face jail time. It isn't for jurors to decide for themselves what statements may have an effect on the trial or the defendant's due process rights. And yes, the scumbag defendant gets a new trial too. The idiot juror who caused this mess should be real proud of themselves.

Re:So what? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38327574)

At the same time, though, serving on a jury doesn't make you give up every right you have. It would be like saying, "Because you are serving on a jury, you cannot use the phone, send any email, or login to Facebook during the trial. I'm sorry if you will be fired because you can't respond to your boss's emails or calls." A judge cannot deny you your basic rights entirely. He can only prohibit you from doing something that will compromise the trial. Posting about coffee at the courthouse doesn't do that, under any reasonable person's definition. Would complaining about warm water from a water fountain or that the Coke machine ate his money be grounds for dismissal too?

It's why sequestering juries is done only under extreme circumstances, and judges are loathe to do it. They understand that sacrificing your freedom is not an ordinary part of jury duty. Your rights and the rights of the defendant are not mutually exclusive.

Re:So what? (1)

Alex Belits (437) | more than 2 years ago | (#38327742)

It would be like saying, "Because you are serving on a jury, you cannot use the phone, send any email, or login to Facebook during the trial. I'm sorry if you will be fired because you can't respond to your boss's emails or calls." A judge cannot deny you your basic rights entirely.

Why not? Formally, you act on the behalf of the whole population of the country, so if it is not compatible with exercising your rights, rights have to lose.
Practically, if you are in a position when being on a jury has such severe consequences for your life, just tell the lawyers something they really hate to hear when they choose a jury.

Re:So what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38327812)

Yeah like "I've heard about this trial on the news, and I really hope we can put that scumbag 'Blank' away."

Re:So what? (1)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 2 years ago | (#38328106)

My bro in law is an engineer that specializes in fault analysis and other types of "WTF went wrong" tasks whete he works. He get excused very quickly after stating his occupation.

I find just stating engineer as my job gets me the stink eye from the defense side, although I have been excused by the prosecution. Six trips to jury duty, never actually sat on a jury. I think if you just use words of more than one syllable during selection questioning, you're gone.

Re:So what? (1)

Anonymus (2267354) | more than 2 years ago | (#38327800)

At the same time, though, any boss who would fire someone for serving on jury duty should themselves be fired and put in jail.

Re:So what? (1)

RobertLTux (260313) | more than 2 years ago | (#38327820)

"I'm sorry if you will be fired because you can't respond to your boss's emails or calls"

and im sure the Labor board would love to hear about somebody getting canned over Jury Duty since i think that is one of the things IT IS A FELONY TO FIRE OVER.

Re:So what? (3, Insightful)

pla (258480) | more than 2 years ago | (#38327900)

and im sure the Labor board would love to hear about somebody getting canned over Jury Duty since i think that is one of the things IT IS A FELONY TO FIRE OVER.

Nobody actually gets fired for serving on jury duty... or taking maternity leave... or putting in their obligatory National Guard time.

Funny, though, how much discretion your employer has on who gets promoted, who gets raises, who gets sacked when hard times come.

Re:So what? (1)

_0xd0ad (1974778) | more than 2 years ago | (#38327986)

If the slightest indication is made that your boss is in any way upset about your having to serve on jury duty, document it meticulously and you'll have a very solid case later if, say, you're let go without an extremely good reason.

Re:So what? (1)

khr (708262) | more than 2 years ago | (#38327550)

But a juror publicly talking about what's going on with the jury, outside whatever is obvious in the courtroom, might affect how lawyers for either side present their case.

Re:So what? (2)

hedwards (940851) | more than 2 years ago | (#38327564)

Because it gives the parties involved a way of gauging the status of various jurors. But mostly because it's easier to order a jury not to discuss, investigate, avoid hearing about or speaking about the case at all than it is to set up a set of rules that govern where exactly the line is.

Ultimately it was presumably in the judges instructions and orders from the beginning that they were not to engage in that activity and report any accidental exposure to the bailiff. Or at least that's how it was when I was on jury duty.

Re:So what? (4, Insightful)

hey! (33014) | more than 2 years ago | (#38327588)

Simple. Juror is ordered not to post anything on the Internet. Juror *disregards* the order, therefore juror has shown he can't be trusted to follow instructions the judge has given him.

You can't undo an execution, nor can you compensate the executed person if the conviction was in error. If you're considering killing a man, common decency demands you at least provide him with a jury that can be trusted to follow instructions.

Re:So what? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38328088)

You can't undo an execution, nor can you compensate the executed person if the conviction was in error. If you're considering killing a man, common decency demands you at least provide him with a jury that can be trusted to follow instructions.

"Common decency" mentioned in the same sentence as execution.

We really live in a fucked up country.

Re:So what? (2)

swalve (1980968) | more than 2 years ago | (#38327628)

It's the same reason why cameras and recording devices aren't allowed in most courtrooms. It is purported to cause the people in the courtroom to behave differently.

And the reason why experts are asked to "forget" what they know is because all that is relevant is the facts and evidence as presented in the courtroom.

Re:So what? (1)

dlthompson81 (1802312) | more than 2 years ago | (#38327964)

If you were on trial for murder, would you want the person in the jury thinking about what his next tweet would be, or would you want him thinking about if you are guilty or not? I think it's pretty simple, but that's just me.

Need a new law (4, Insightful)

Nidi62 (1525137) | more than 2 years ago | (#38327344)

Any type of incident such as this should be considered obstruction of justice, or at least contempt of court, and should come with a fine and/or jail sentence(if only a few days). Jurors not paying attention or disregarding orders can cost lives (either by sentencing an innocent man to death, or freeing an actual murderer and allowing him to kill again). Jury duty is not something that should be taken lightly, and is one of the few things the government asks you to do in regards to civic duty. A lot of people can't even do this right, or don't want to. People want so much from the government, but they can't even be bothered to do one simple thing like pay attention and do your duty.

Re:Need a new law (1, Informative)

pla (258480) | more than 2 years ago | (#38327516)

Any type of incident such as this should be considered obstruction of justice, or at least contempt of court, and should come with a fine and/or jail sentence

Sure - Just as soon as jury duty becomes purely voluntary (and don't give me "then just don't register to vote"), or at the very least, easily deferrable to any convenient time within the next year or so once notified. What we have now amounts to nothing short of indentured servitude if you want to actually exercise your right to vote. At any time, they can call you in and unless you have a damned good reason, you can find the next few weeks of your life suddenly unavailable to you (and Zeus help you if you actually get called for any sort of high-profile capital case, unless you like the thought of effectively living in solitary confinement for six months).

Re:Need a new law (2, Insightful)

Nidi62 (1525137) | more than 2 years ago | (#38327596)

Any type of incident such as this should be considered obstruction of justice, or at least contempt of court, and should come with a fine and/or jail sentence Sure - Just as soon as jury duty becomes purely voluntary (and don't give me "then just don't register to vote"), or at the very least, easily deferrable to any convenient time within the next year or so once notified. What we have now amounts to nothing short of indentured servitude if you want to actually exercise your right to vote. At any time, they can call you in and unless you have a damned good reason, you can find the next few weeks of your life suddenly unavailable to you (and Zeus help you if you actually get called for any sort of high-profile capital case, unless you like the thought of effectively living in solitary confinement for six months).

You are provided with police service, fire service, protection from foreign enemies, insurance against money loss, unemployment if you can't get a job, medical assistance for those that are retired/too poor to afford it, food if you cannot afford it, infrastructure, and various environmental and consumer protections, to name a few. The government asks of you only 2 (or 3, if you are male) things: pay your taxes, enter the selective service (for males), and participate in jury duty. For all the government does, and all the people that sacrifice years of their lives (if not all of their lives) so that you can have all of these things, I think you can sacrifice a few weeks. Like I said, this is what is wrong with this country, at all levels. It's not "give and take" anymore. It's "see how much I can take, and how little I can give".

Re:Need a new law (1)

pla (258480) | more than 2 years ago | (#38327962)

The government asks of you only 2 (or 3, if you are male) things: pay your taxes, enter the selective service (for males), and participate in jury duty

Which I consider two (as a male) too many, and would further argue about how much tax we really need to pay.


Like I said, this is what is wrong with this country, at all levels. It's not "give and take" anymore. It's "see how much I can take, and how little I can give".

We allow the government to exist because it facilitates us getting about with our daily lives. We do indeed bear a price for that, but when that price means "can't get about with my daily life", the price has grown too high to bear. Conning people into believing in some BS nobility of the "social contract" counts as one of the greatest evils ever perpetuated by the oligarchy on human society.

Re:Need a new law (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 2 years ago | (#38327576)

That's what bothers me more than the tweeting per se(yes, they might have been discussing the case in some covert way, and a phone would certainly give them the capability to be influenced during the case from the outside, which would be bad): If you are falling asleep, or twitting away about the coffee, you aren't even paying basic attention to the case, which is your job(or you suck so badly at paying basic attention to presentations of data that you should probably be excused from jury service and allowed to clear trash from the highway median for an equivalent length of time...)

Even if there was no jury tampering, as seems reasonably likely, there was definitely a bunch of jury-just-not-giving-a-fuck...

Racially Biased Decision (1)

Baldrson (78598) | more than 2 years ago | (#38327354)

Obviously the Arkansas Supreme Court is packed with crackers who let Erickson [guim.co.uk] (probably related to Leif) off because he was white.

Re:Racially Biased Decision (2)

hedwards (940851) | more than 2 years ago | (#38327586)

No, they did it because the trial was compromised and they couldn't be sure that the defendant had received a fair trial. If they wanted to let a white man off the hook they could have ordered him freed without a new trial.

Correct outcome (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38327366)

Juror misconduct SHOULD be taken very seriously, even to the point of giving new trials to clearly guilty individuals. The integrity of the system is more important than the inconvenience and expense of trying some dirtbag twice.

...what. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38327412)

I didn't even know you were allowed to have your phone with you. I haven't personally had jury duty, but the rest of my family has and they said they were told to leave their phones in their cars. In fact, my family didn't even tell each other about any details of the case until after the trial, and we never asked. None of our business.

It boggles the mind that people think these things are okay. I don't know when or where I learned it, but I have it ingrained in me that until the trial is over, what happens in court, stays in court. Including how bad the coffee is.

That juror is a moron and deserves punishment. If I was the family of the murdered kid, I would be furious and incredibly upset. I'm sure he'll get convicted again anyway, but that's not the point. Having to go through the process again, especially after hearing the first time the guilty verdict. That has got to suck.

Poor Reasoning (2)

Fulminata (999320) | more than 2 years ago | (#38327632)

"Associate Justice Donald Corbin wrote 'because of the very nature of Twitter as an... online social media site, Juror 2's tweets about the trial were very much public discussions.'"

A discussion, by definition, requires the participation of more than one person. So, Justice Corbin is incorrect. The juror made a public statement, but did not engage in a public discussion. It may be mostly a matter of semantics, but in this case it's also the difference between something that could have changed the outcome of the verdict and something which obviously did not.

The juror behaved inappropriately, but not in such a way that could have influenced the outcome of a verdict, so the verdict should have been upheld.

Re:Poor Reasoning (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38328124)

I absolutely agree with you.

Complaining about the coffee, and saying "here we go again", is not discussing the trial, or any of the evidence. Was the Jury even sequestered? I suspect the fact that the coffee sucks, and the juror was doing Jury duty, were common knowledge to any of his followers.

The Judge erred in giving a new trial on these grounds.

No coffee tweet mentioned in the opinion (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38327682)

From the opinion:

THE COURT
: Okay. It’s says: Choices to be made. Hearts to be broken. Weeach define the great line. About 20 hours ago via text. Now what does that mean?

  JUROR
[2]: What it means was, um, not only like to pertain to this case butalso to future stuff. Um, obviously, whatever we as a jury decide – you know, I’m notnecessarily saying I know what’s going to be decided, but we have to decide – makea huge decision. Either way, you know, if we do decide something like it’s just gonna – a lot of people are either going to be mad about it watching the news because, youknow, people have expressed to me you’re on that court case, right? I can’t talk aboutit. So I leave. So there’s a ton of people watching this. And either way we decide,people are either going to be angry or people are going to be hurt either way. Sowhat I was meaning by that was, you know, we have to define the great line of, youknow, where we stand on a subject and, you know, what we have to choose – decidein the future. And also “Define the Great Line” was an Underoath album, and Ithought I’d throw that in there along with my tweet.

THE COURT
: Well, have you already made up your mind in this case what you’re going to – how you’re going to vote?

JUROR
[2]: No, because I’m waiting for the other 11 to help me come to aconclusion.

THE COURT
: All right.

The opinion never mentioned the coffee tweet, but it did mention what tweets were much more of a flagrant violation of do not discuss the case outside of the court room. I do agree that it seems like Juror 2 was having a tough time with the case, and with the possible verdict and punishment. I think the court correctly overturned the conviction.

YAWN (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38327758)

Read the full opinion. The trial decision was reversed and remanded for many reasons, only one of which was juror misconduct. The juror misconduct charge came about from the juror not following the judge's direction not to use social media. The judge actually determined that the tweets did not harm the defendant.

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