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Criminal Penalties for "Tweeting" Jurors

August 12, 2011

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We have reported on several occasions about how social media has been slowly changing the legal landscape, particularly in terms of instructions to be given to jurors during trial proceedings. While judges must always instruct jurors not to communicate with anyone about the pending proceedings, jurors have continuously failed to comprehend that the judge's instructions also apply to Facebook and twitter.
California has decided to be proactive about such juror actions, <a href="">and is amending its jury instruction</a> to include a prohibition against "any form of electronic or wireless communication." Violators potentially face six months in jail.
New York was a bit ahead of the game on this issue <a href="">as it revised its jury instructions</a> in May 2009.
A "tweeting juror" in NY can be charged with criminal contempt, and very nearly was in the case of <em>People v. Rios</em>, 2010 WL 625221 (N.Y. Sup., 2010) during a well publicized arson trial in Bronx County.
Thanks to Biran Gibbons for his contribution to this post.

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