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Juror Held in Contempt, Gets Community Service for Effort to Friend Defendant on Facebook

Posted Aug 29, 2011 2:55 PM CDT
By Martha Neil

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In what a prosecutor in Tarrant County, Texas, says is the first such matter of its kind there, a juror in a civil auto accident case has been held in contempt for trying to friend the defendant on Facebook and discussing the case on his Facebook page.

Jonathan Hudson, 22, was sentenced last week to two days of community service after pleading guilty to four counts of contempt, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports.

The matter came to the court's attention after the defendant told her lawyer and her lawyer told the judge. Jury instructions prohibit jurors from discussing their cases on social networking sites.

After he was dismissed from the jury on July 19, Hudson apologized to the defendant, Courtney Downing, in another Facebook message, saying that he didn't identify anyone or discuss case specifics on his Facebook page. "I pretty much just said I was selected to be on a jury," Hudson wrote. "I'm pretty upset over this and I'm sure you guys are too. I guess you know what it feels like to be prosecuted too. Good luck with everything."

Hudson's lawyer, Steve Gordon, tells the newspaper his client is "a very nice kid" who made "a silly mistake" and is sorry.

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