I have written about the problems arising when jurors post comments on Facebook and other social networking sites during a trial. Now a survey from Reuters Legal reveals some troubling statistics regarding the extent of the problem. According to the survey, since 1999, at least 90 verdicts have been challenged due to internet-related juror conduct, with at least half of those challenges occurring in the past two years. Courts granted new trials or overturned verdicts in 28 of the cases, and in the majority of the cases where a court did not declare a mistrial, it nonetheless found internet-related misconduct on the part of jurors.
While courts and attorneys struggle with the best ways to prevent and curb jurors from researching legal issues on line or commenting on active trials, other suggest that it’s unrealistic to do so when so many people can’t seem to get through their day without posting something on Facebook. As usage of social networking sites continues to explode, and shows no sign of slowing down, these issues will continue to plague the judicial system for years to come.