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The digital generation brought up Googling, Wikipediaing, and Twittering their way through their lives is starting to have problems when it turns out they don’t see why they can’t do the same thing when they’re in a courtroom, according to the New York Times.

In a recent case, it was found that 9 out of 12 jurors were doing research about the case on the Internet, which forced the judge to declare a mistrial after eight weeks of testimony.

Similarly, a building products company has asked an Arkansas court to overturn a $12.6 million judgment, claiming that a juror used Twitter to send updates during the civil trial.

The problem is that people can use their usual Internet tools from their cell phones and Blackberrys, and it can be difficult to take those devices away from jurors -- plus, unless they're sequestered, they can look things up when they get home. But judges are apparently having trouble explaining to jurors why they shouldn’t do that – partly because the people, perhaps overly influenced by Perry Mason and CSI: Miami, are trying to help.

“Jurors are not supposed to seek information outside of the courtroom,” said the New York Times’ John Schwarz in the story. “They are required to reach a verdict based on only the facts the judge has decided are admissible, and they are not supposed to see evidence that has been excluded as prejudicial.”

“There's no need to change any rules,” said one person commenting on the story at the New York Times site. “These people are just idiots. Everyone knows you're forbidden to research a trial you're sitting on the jury of. This is no different from a juror reading an editorial in a newspaper.”

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Last Post by BestJewSinceJC
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It's a sign of the times, I think. And not a good or bad one, just a sign.

I don't agree with the comment at the end of the blog entry, the one that refers to the people as "idiots". I understand that person's sentiment, and it's easy to dismiss the problem as mere stupidity on the part of the people who are researching and writing about court cases they are jury members for, however, I feel it is the job of the court to update their policies and procedures to reflect the technology of the time.

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I couldn't disagree with you more, PirateTUX. Jurors are forbidden from doing this kind of research because it introduces bias into the process and it takes control away from the court. Anyone who is doing outside research is introducing "facts" which may or may not be true and is researching material which may sway their opinion from what it would have been if they only heard evidence the court decided was admissible (as was stated in the article).

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