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Google Mistrials: Jurors Mess Up Trials by Researching on Web


I'll admit it. Whenever I encounter something new — a new acquaintance, a new symptom a new word, I want to Google it! I'm sure I'm not the only person who outsources much of my personal "research" to the Internet. But jurors are quickly finding out that it's not so easy to turn off the Google addiction when the law demands it.

Imagine you land yourself in the jury box for a big federal drug trial. You might want to quickly Google some background info on your phone, but wait right there! The judge has told you that any outside research would directly violate court orders and centuries of legal rules. While you might be able to restrain yourselves, an increasing number of jurors can't, and it's resulting in costly mistrials. One defendant is currently using a juror's posts to Twitter during his trial as the basis for his appeal.

Do you think adults can control themselves, or should we make jurors leave their cell phones at the door? Can tested legal rules survive the iPhone?

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