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Jurors addicted to iPhones and Google causing mistrials

I admit it. I check Google out all the time when I need some information. It's a good habit, and I feel better informed.

If you are a juror, however, you can be a wee bit too informed. The New York Times is reporting jurors with web enabled cell phones are doing their own research, Googling lawyers names, more information on defendants and even research into claims made by witnesses. Recently in a Florida case, such misbehavior resulted in a costly mistrial after 8 weeks of work by prosecutors and defense attorneys.

In an Arkansas case, a juror used Twitter to send updates to friends during a civil trial.Jurors are instructed to not do any outside research or communications, but some find the temptation just too great.

In some states, cellphones are not allowed in the courtrooms, but are allowed in the jury rooms. Most of these rules were designed to keep distracting noises out of the courtroom, and later the rules were trying to deter cameras built into phones. Many judges didn't give a thought about jurors using their phones to do research until recently, but our do-it-all phones are likely going to force a complete rewriting of the rules. How can you learn more about this issue? Google it on your iPhone, of course.

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