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Criminal Procedure

Florida Jurors Banned From Using Social Media to Discuss Criminal Cases

Posted May 21, 2012 6:00 PM CDT
By Rachel M. Zahorsky

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The Florida Supreme Court banned jurors from using electronic devices or social media to talk about their cases Thursday.

The detailed opinion adopts the work of the court’s Committee on Standard Jury Instructions in Criminal Cases, which builds on more broad-ranged 2010 juror instructions prohibiting the use of social media, the Daily Business Review reports. The opinion comes at a time when courts are increasingly aware of the challenges social media and electronic devices present in the courtroom.

At least 90 verdicts were subject to challenge from 1999 to 2010 because of internet-related juror misconduct, according to a 2010 Reuters Legal survey, the Daily Business Review reports.

"Judges may give a fairly off-the-cuff instruction," said Barry Butin, secretary of the Broward Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, of the updated set of juror rules. "This looks like a more formalized jury instruction that the committee worked on to get it uniform."

Trial judges must now tell jurors they "must not use electronic devices or computers to talk about this case, including tweeting, texting, blogging, emailing, posting information on a website or chat room, or any other means at all," both before jury instructions and again when the case is submitted to the jury for deliberations, according to the report.

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