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More from the #Jury Box: The Latest on Juries and Social Media

Federal District Judge Amy St. Eve (ND Ill.), Illinois Circuit Judge Charles Burns, and Michael Zuckerman have this article with the above title in Duke Law & Technology Review.  Here is the abstract:

This Article presents the results of a survey of jurors in federal and state court on their use of social media during their jury service. We began surveying federal jurors in 2011 and reported preliminary results in 2012; since then, we have surveyed several hundred more jurors, including state jurors, for a more complete picture of juror attitudes toward social media. Our results support the growing consensus that jury instructions are the most effective tool to mitigate the risk of juror misconduct through social media.  We conclude with a set of recommended best practices for using a social-media instruction.
The introduction section (footnotes omitted) follows the break.

Born out a common-law tradition and guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution, the impartial jury is one of the most fundamental American institutions. It is also one of the most resilient. The impartial jury has survived the telephone, the radio, the automobile, and the television. There is no reason why it cannot survive Facebook and Twitter, too. But to ensure the continued fairness and integrity of the jury system, the legal profession must be proactive and vigilant in addressing juror misconduct through social media.

In mid-2011, against a rise in reported instances of juror misconduct through social media, U.S. District Court Judge Amy St. Eve began an informal survey of actual jurors. The survey asked jurors at the conclusion of their service whether they had been tempted to communicate about the case through social media and, if so, what prevented them from doing so. Based on 140 responses from jurors in federal court, we reported in a March 2012 article that the survey data supported the growing consensus in the legal profession that courts should specifically instruct jurors not to use social media to communicate about the case.

In this Article, we introduce 443 additional responses from jurors in both federal and state court, and revisit the informal survey results anew, with assistance from an additional co-author. Part I discusses social-media developments since our last article and highlights three recent judicial opinions. Part II presents the results of the informal survey. As we explain in Part III, the results continue to support the emerging consensus that jury instructions are the most effective tool to mitigate the risk of juror misconduct through social media. Although the informal survey results are not scientific, we hope that they will further the dialogue by adding the voices of actual jurors.

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