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 in declared a mistrial in a civil case after discovering a witness — a company executive — was texting his boss on the stand during a side bar 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 is going to 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 is not going to help matters. I’m am in the minority of injury lawyers who think that the existing rules that already incorporate all of the real concerns we have should be underscored in the instruction to the jury but that we should otherwise leave things as they are.