Mistrials Rise as Phone-Wielding Jurors Hit Web

Google searches, Twitter posts force end to cases
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 18, 2009 6:04 AM CDT
A juror deliberating corruption charges against Vincent Fumo, left, discussed the case on Facebook and Twitter and even promised a "big announcement" before the verdict. Fumo has moved for a mistrial.   (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
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(Newser) – When a juror admitted last week that he had done online research during a major Florida drugs case, the judge thought he could dismiss the juror and continue. But he had to declare a mistrial when he questioned the jury—and found eight other jurors had been doing the same thing. As the New York Times reports, iPhone and BlackBerry-wielding jurors across the country are wrecking centuries-old rules of jurisprudence, and nobody knows what to do about it.

In one case, an Arkansas company was fined $12.6 million by a jury but is now appealing after it emerged that one juror was posting updates on Twitter. Online research is even more troubling: Jurors at lunch or in the bathroom can find information a judge has specifically excluded from the proceedings, hobbling the entire system. One juror in the Florida case justified Google searches and looking up news articles by saying, "Well, I was curious."