Monday, June 22, 2009

Sweet justice, yes; tweet justice, no

Yesterday's Stars and Stripes included this article reporting that Military Judges' Benchbook honcho COL Ted Dixon is drafting instructions for military judges to deliver to members panels concerning use of Internet resources and social networking sites while the case is pending. Kent Harris, Jury instructions to include rules on use of new media, Stars & Stripes, June 21, 2009. The article also reports that "[i]n the meantime, some judges are already using their own versions. In recent courts-martial in Italy, Army and Air Force judges have warned jurors not to talk about the trial with others using any form of communication."

h/t Phil Cave's Court-Martial Trial Practice blog


Anonymous said...

This is a big area of concern for witnesses on both sides as myspace and facebook pages can be looked at for incriminating evidence or bias by either counsel or the panel.

Any good attorneys will tell their witnesses to watch what they post anywhere on the internet and just assume that it will get out to everyone.

Phil Cave said...

Anon is correct!
I routinely surf for adverse information on prosecution witnesses. You will be surprised what you find.

But I think the concern here is for "jurors" in a lot of civilian cases now sending photos and comments from inside the "jury room."

Anonymous said...

I hear there's rumors on the Internets that we're going to have a draft.

Anonymous said...

Anon 1029, you work too hard. Save some time and just tell the witneses that all they need to do is tell the truth. It usually always works out for the best if a lying or biased witness is exposed. I just had a defense atty give me print outs of my domestic violence "victim's" My Space page--it greatly helped get that case speedily resolved.

It's great for atty's to do that research, not so much for a panel member to be doing it.

Anonymous said...

The answer is the same as it is for restaurants and theaters, just to name a couple - cell phone jamming devices. They are currently illegal in the US, but legal in many other countries. Legalize their official use. That or treat jurors like teenagers, check the electronic devices at the door. Might even aid in speeding things along given that many folks seem to consider a blackberry or cellphone an appendage.

Anonymous said...

Members / jurors cell phones, etc., should always be collected by the Bailiff. In some federal courts, they're banned period.

And for those of us old enough to remember when smoking was first banned in the deliberation rooms, we learned to ask in voir dire, "Will it be a personal hardship for you to go 2 hours without smoking?" "If so, will your full and complete attention to the trial be affected in any way?"

It never ceased to amaze me how many people would say "yes" to both questions. Fast forward, and substitute "texting" or "having your blackberry," etc.