Afternoon Briefs: Internet research is costly for juror; bar dues claim partly resurrected
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Federal juror’s internet research cost over $11K
A federal judge in New Jersey has held a juror in contempt and fined him more than $11,000 for conducting internet research on a case, despite warnings against such conduct. U.S. District Judge Robert Kugler of the District of New Jersey had declared a mistrial after learning that the juror shared his internet findings with other jurors. The juror had researched a patch on the uniform of an immigration officer after fellow jurors suggested that it was a trade union logo. The juror said the patch was a white supremacist logo. The defendant was accused of resisting an immigration arrest. The fine represented the costs associated with empaneling the jury. (Law360, U.S. attorney’s office press release, Reuters)
10th Circuit partly resurrects bar dues claim
The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals at Denver has partly resurrected a challenge to the Oklahoma Bar Association’s mandatory bar dues. The court said plaintiff Mark E. Schell plausibly alleged that the Oklahoma Bar Journal improperly used mandatory dues to discuss matters of an ideological nature—rather than matters related to the bar’s core purpose of regulating the legal profession and improving the quality of legal services. But the 10th Circuit said U.S. Supreme Court precedent bars Schell’s claim that his free speech rights are violated by mandatory dues spent on core activities. (Bloomberg Law, Reuters)
Entire prosecution office kicked off case
The Arizona Supreme Court has affirmed a trial judge’s decision to ban the entire Tucson, Arizona, office of the state attorney general from handling a new trial in a murder case. The trial judge had discretion to impute misconduct by Assistant Attorney General Richard Wintory to the whole office, the state supreme court said. Wintory had engaged in a series of improper phone conversations with a confidential intermediary who was appointed to help the defense locate mitigation evidence. He consented to a 90-day suspension from law practice in connection with the incident, according to Tucson.com. (The Legal Profession Blog, the Arizona Capitol Times, the Arizona Supreme Court decision)