One of the most important components of being a juror in a court of law is maintaining objectivity. When you are selected as a juror, you are sometimes asked questions so the attorneys can evaluate whether or not you will be able to be fair when rendering a verdict. The problem comes in when jurors turn to online searches about the cases they are involved in. The following are some things you need to know about using online searches while serving as a juror:
You Are Not Allowed to Do Online Research About the Case
You may not do any online research about your case when you are serving as a juror. It is stated in the court's instructions that you are not allowed to look at the news, read a newspaper or read anything online pertaining to your case. You are only supposed to take the information provided in the testimonies in court to make your decision.
If you do online research about your case, you then could lose your objectivity in the case. Depending on the source, you could be reading very biased information that could sway your decision. What is worse is when a juror brings this information into the jury room when deliberating the case. This can have a serious impact on the case.
What Happens if You Are Found Doing Online Searches
If you are found to be doing online searches while you are serving on a jury, a variety of outcomes are possible. You may initially receive a stern warning to cease your searches. You can also be found in contempt of court and face fines and jail time. Worst case scenario is the entire case can be thrown out on a mistrial because you contaminated the jury pool by sharing your research.
What May Be Asked of You as a Juror
The ability to have research in a moment's notice is getting more difficult for courts. When you are selected as a juror, do not be surprised of some of the things you are asked to do. You may have to listen to jury instructions more than once so it is clear that you understand that no online searches are allowed in or outside of the jury room when it comes to the case you are on. You may need to sign an agreement that you will not use any electronic device while at court and limit your use while away from the courtroom. It is also possible that you will be asked to report other jurors that you see violating this rule so that he or she can be dismissed.
For more information about jury selection, contact your local representatives.