In modern court cases, jurors are told not to research cases online and not to post about the proceedings on social media.
Of course, not all jurors follow that rule. In fact when jury members violate this rule, it can lead to a mistrial or a case being thrown out entirely.
Whenever this happened jurors would typically be scolded by the judge and dismissed. Judges do hold the power of contempt in these situations, but that process is especially time consuming.
Now, in new legislation supported by state court officials, Judges will have the power to fine offending jurors up to $1500. The bill now authorizes the judiciary to select some county courts for a five-year pilot program, which a legislative analysis said could save participating courts money. It is before the full assembly.
We want to know more about what effect this could have. Will potential jury members have to be vetted more extensively for their internet habits? Will it give judges teeth to deal with anyone whose internet habits are ruining court proceedings?
Greg Hurley, a lawyer who studies juries at the National Center for State Courts