Federal judges are hoping you won’t, and have a new list of instructions from the Federal Judicial Conference Committee on how to discourage social networking in the courthouse throughout cases. While you may just be browsing breaking news or your friends’ updates, judges are concerned you’ll engage in external research or leak details about the case.
The new guidelines, drafted in June and issued Friday, instruct judges how to best deter jurors from using Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook or YouTube to research and communicate about the cases for which they’re serving. Judges are told to review these instructions before the trial, at the close of each day before they return home, at the end of the case and at any other time deemed appropriate.
“Jurors should be told why refraining from use of social media promotes a fair trial,” said Judge Julie Robinson, the Conference Committee on Court Administration and Case Management chair, in a statement. “Finally, jurors should know the consequences of violations during trial, such as mistrial and wasted time.”
These instructions follow the results of a national survey of federal judges who reported that juror use of social media was most often reported by a fellow juror. Judges are encouraged to ask jurors to out fellow jurors who violate the instructions against social networking.
Is social networking during court cases a problem judges need to address? Let us know in the comments if you’ve seen this while serving on a jury.