Florida bans jurors from tweeting, blogging

State Supreme Court says jurors must not discuss case on "blog, Twitter, e-mail, text message" or look at "at maps or pictures on the Internet."

Florida has officially banned jurors from tweeting.

New jury instructions adopted by the Supreme Court of Florida, which judges will pass along to jurors, instruct them not to discuss the case through "electronic communication, such as a blog, Twitter, e-mail, text message, or any other means."

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Tweeting (or Facebooking, or blogging) about cases has happened, of course. An Ohio man convicted of drunk driving unsuccessfully tried to get a new trial after a juror blogged about the case. A New Hampshire juror was caught calling criminal defendants "riff-raff."

A judge removed a juror after she reportedly posted on Facebook: "Gonna be fun to tell the defendant they're guilty." And a Georgia federal judge banned even spectators from sending live updates through Twitter from the courtroom.

Here are some excerpts from Florida's new juror instructions released October 21:

During deliberations, jurors must communicate about the case only with one another and only when all jurors are present in the jury room. You are not to communicate with any person outside the jury about this case. Until you have reached a verdict, you must not talk about this case in person or through the telephone, writing, or electronic communication, such as a blog, Twitter, e-mail, text message, or any other means. Do not contact anyone to assist you during deliberations. These communications rules apply until I discharge you at the end of the case. If you become aware of any violation of these instructions or any other instruction I have given in this case, you must tell me by giving a note to the bailiff.

In reaching your decision, do not do any research on your own or as a group. Do not use dictionaries, the Internet, or any other reference materials. Do not investigate the case or conduct any experiments...Do not visit or view the scene of any event involved in this case or look at maps or pictures on the Internet. If you happen to pass by the scene, do not stop or investigate.

Jurors must not have discussions of any sort with friends or family members about the case or the people and places involved. So, do not let even the closest family members make comments to you or ask questions about the trial. In this age of electronic communication, I want to stress again that just as you must not talk about this case face-to-face, you must not talk about this case by using an electronic device. You must not use phones, computers or other electronic devices to communicate. Do not send or accept any messages related to this case or your jury service. Do not discuss this case or ask for advice by any means at all, including posting information on an Internet website, chat room or blog.

 

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