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As Jurors Turn to Web, Mistrials Are Popping Up
From: David Farber <dave () farber net>
Date: Wed, 18 Mar 2009 11:32:30 -0400

Begin forwarded message:

From: James Grimmelmann <james () grimmelmann net>
Date: March 18, 2009 11:13:28 AM EDT
To: dave () farber net
Subject: Re: [IP] As Jurors Turn to Web, Mistrials Are Popping Up

On Mar 18, 2009, at 10:54 AM, David Farber wrote:

Begin forwarded message:

From: Monty Solomon <monty () roscom com>
Date: March 17, 2009 11:07:41 PM EDT
To: undisclosed-recipient:;
Subject: As Jurors Turn to Web, Mistrials Are Popping Up


It might be called a Google mistrial. The use of BlackBerrys and
iPhones by jurors gathering and sending out information about cases
is wreaking havoc on trials around the country, upending
deliberations and infuriating judges.

And this is a _bad_ thing? Three cheers for the jurors who are trying to do their civic duty responsibly! And jeers for a legal system that has become so obsessed with process and letting the lawyers control everything that it spends most of its time at trial trying to keep jurors ignorant.

Back in the 1200s, the jury at a trial knew _more_ about what happened than anyone else present. The whole idea behind having a jury of locals was to ask the people with firsthand knowledge to report on what they knew. Over the centuries, the lawyers managed to grab control over trials, resulting in the monstrosity of "rules of evidence" and the ritualized combat we call the "adversary system." Today's technologically informed jurors are trying to take back control of the trial, and good for them. If they succeed, trials might once again actually be about getting at the truth of what really happened.


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