The juror’s guide to social networking sites

This guide is pretty short: Don’t Use Them!

A West Virginia man’s conviction has been reversed because jurors looked up the victim on MySpace.

Why is it that jurors cannot seem to follow the judge’s instruction to not conduct any independent investigations and to rely solely on evidence presented during the trial.

You’d think that in the age of technology, enough people know that to do so will taint their verdicts.

Here is an excerpt from the decision:

We are mindful that the independent investigation conducted by two of the jurors did not bear fruit, which arguably lessens the prejudicial effect, but notwithstanding that fact, the mere fact that members of a jury in a serious felony case conducted any extrajudicial investigation on their own is gross juror misconduct which simply cannot be permitted. Without meaningful censure, failure to properly punish such behavior would encourage or allow its repetition. Given the independent investigation by these jurors and the fact that another juror advised that the alleged victims’ testimony should be given more weight than that of the appellant contrary to the judge’s instructions and our law, we have no choice but to vacate the appellant’s convictions.

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