The Michigan Supreme Court is banning all electronic communications by jurors during trial, including the nearly essential for human life “tweets” on Twitter, text messages and Google searches. This will require Michigan judges for the first time to instruct jurors not to use any handheld device, such as iPhones or Blackberrys, while in the jury box or during deliberations.
The National Law Journal reports that In Florida, Miami-Dade Circuit Court Judge Scott Silverman declared a mistrial in a civil case after discovering a witness — a company executive — was texting his boss on the stand during a sidebar conference. “I never had this happen before,” Judge Silverman stated. “This is completely outrageous.”
I appreciate the problem. Logistically, taking away cell phones from people in 2009 will be a problem. A good number of jurors – usually a minority, but still – are angry about spending the time required to serve in the first place. This will not help matters. I am in the minority of injury lawyers who think the existing rules that already incorporate all the actual concerns we have should be underscored in the instruction to the jury, but that we should otherwise leave things as they are.