Jury Trials and Social Media

As technology evolves, so too does jurisprudence regarding the proper use of such tools as social media, particularly Facebook and Twitter. Recently, the Massachusetts Appeals Court has reminded judges that they must remind jurors that they should refrain from posting comments about ongoing jury trials to Facebook and Twitter. The consequences for not following this directive are serious-a potential mistrial.
“Jurors must separate and insulate their jury service from their digital lives,’’ the court said in a ruling involving a Plymouth Superior Court case in which several jurors made comments on Facebook during a trial. Those posts in turn elicited responding posts from friends.
“Instructions not to talk or chat about the case should expressly extend to electronic communications and social media,’’ the court added in its little-noticed ruling two weeks ago.

Holly Haines