An interesting article this morning from Legal Blog Watch discusses a move by the Judicial Conference of the United States to stop jurors from twittering in the courtroom. The Judicial Conference is proposing model jury instructions, which read:
- “…you should not consult dictionaries or reference materials, search the internet, websites, blogs, or use any other electronic tools to obtain information about this case or to help you decide the case. Please do not try to find out information from any source outside the confines of this courtroom.”
- “I hope that for all of you this case is interesting and noteworthy. I know that many of you use cell phones, Blackberries, the internet and other tools of technology….You may not communicate with anyone about the case on your cell phone, through e-mail, Blackberry, iPhone, text messaging, or on Twitter, through any blog or website, through any internet chat room, or by way of any other social networking websites, including Facebook, My Space, LinkedIn, and YouTube.”
At the Close of the Case:
- “During your deliberations, you must not communicate with or provide any information to anyone by any means about this case. You may not use any electronic device or media, such as a telephone, cell phone, smart phone, iPhone, Blackberry or computer; the internet, any internet service, or any text or instant messaging service; or any internet chat room, blog, or website such as Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, YouTube or Twitter, to communicate to anyone any information about this case or to conduct any research about this case until I accept your verdict.”
I don’t know if I share Mr. Carton’s (author of the Legal Blog Watch article) optimism that this move will be enough to stop twittering jurors (or their texting, Facebooking counterparts), but I agree that it is a much-needed step in the right direction.