New Recommended Jury Instructions Address Social Media Use by Jurors in PA
Social media is a big issue during trials. It is a big issue both because social media can serve as evidence, but also because jury members use of it can ruin a case. When a jury member uses social media to talk about or research a case, serious problems, including a mistrial, happen.
Judge Turgeon, from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, recently wrote an article for the Pennsylvania Bar Association’s magazine called Avoiding Tweeting Troubles, Facebook Fiascos and Internet Imbroglios Adapting jury instructions for the age of social media.
In her article, she explores how to make certain that jurors understand the consequences of posting or texting anything about what they learn in court and during deliberations. The ramifications of improper social media use can include a mistrial (meaning the expense and time of a new trial) and punishment for the juror. Over the past few years, I have seen quite a few examples of jurors destroying cases and/or getting in trouble. I am glad to see these new instructions make it very clear to jurors why they need to stay off social media when involved in a case.