Even though the judge gives the standard instruction to ‘not talk about the trial until it is over’, connected people who are selected to serve on juries can’t seem to refrain from texting or tweeting during their jury service. Recent experiences reported from around the country show that many jurors can’t stop doing what they now do most of their waking hours: share information. Unfortunately, this conduct of jurors may put the whole trial in jeopardy. This means that lack of thought and ‘normal’ electronic communications by a juror during a trial (even though at a recess in the proceedings) may cause a judge to stop a trial and start over–or even throw out the trial result after the verdict is returned. Ending a trial in the middle (ordering a mistrial) or throwing out the trial result (ordering a new trial) will result in a huge expense to the parties and the courts, not to mention wasting the time of all the rest of the jurors on the case.
The reasons for the judge’s instructions to not share information (give or receive information) about a case that the juror sits on is to make sure that the parties have their case decided solely by the rules of law and evidence–rules that the parties and the courts have all agreed on. If jurors talk, or text, or twitter with others about the trial they are serving on, extraneous information (information that is outside of the rules of the case) may be brought into the case and break the agreements and violate the law that governs the case.
Jurors are the sole deciders of the facts of a case under the law that applies to the case. This is an awesome burden, and one that sits only on the shoulders of the jury. The parties look to the jurors to decide the case based on the information that is presented in the courtroom. It is hard, but jurors must keep all the information they receive in the case to themselves and among themselves–until they have decided the case. After the case is decided, THEN text and twitter about it!