Two weeks ago I posted about what can be done to mitigate juror’s use of electronic devices to obtain information about a case for which they serve as finders of fact. In it, I mentioned that jurors can be instructed to refrain from using such devices but also noted that it may be difficult to prevent all such occurrences. Attorney Kimberly D. Young of Little Rock, Arkansas, wrote an article published yesterday by the Defense Research Institute which expands on this issue and discusses what lawyers and Judges can do to try to prevent outside research and communication from happening at all.
You will find her introductory anecdote about Steve Martin particularly amusing. In her concluding remarks she provides a practical suggestion. She recommends that jury instructions which prohibit jurors from engaging in social media communication about the proceedings or conducting outside research should include an explanation as to why the instruction is given. While nearly everyone will acknowledge that it might be impossible to prevent every juror from independently researching or communicating about jury duty, emphasizing why it is important that they do not do so certainly could reduce the liklihood that it happens.