By Amy E. Feldman
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Talk about tough Florida justice. It wasn’t the murder defendant who got sentenced. It was the juror.
After a prospective juror in a murder trial in Florida admitted that he’d googled the case, the judge – who’d originally threatened to send the juror to jail – instead sentenced the juror to appear for jury duty every Friday for three months.
The fact is that most people get their information on the internet. A recent study found 14% of perspective jurors did not think they could refrain from using the internet to do research at a trial. That’s one person in every jury. And whether a juror thinks he can be Columbo now that he has the tools to do independent research or is simply looking to understand a complicated issue in a trial, the fact is that when a juror does outside research, it’s likely that he will base his decision not on what the people in the trial are telling him but rather on what he’s learned online. And I am sure you know that everything you read online is 100% true.
So the rule is, no independent research online during a trial and violation of the rule can and does lead to mistrials.
If you’re a juror, remember to follow the rules the judge gives you, because there’s nothing worse than showing up to the courthouse as a juror and leaving as a defendant.