A Massachusetts Appeals Court has ruled for the first time that jurors are barred from talking about their juror service on social media sites. Jurors have always been instructed by the judge to refrain from speaking or have conversations about the case. Now, judges are going to have to specifically instruct jurors from posting to social media sites including updating instructions in the Trial Jurors Handbook.
According to the Massachusetts’ court, “jurors must separate and insulate their jury service from their jury service.” The court went on to reason how even innocent posts can elicit responses from friends. In the case before the court the juror posted on Facebook that he was selected for jury duty and a friend responded “throw the book at ‘em.” In one case the juror’s wife responded, “Just send her to Framingham quickly so you can be home for dinner.”
Jurors are not allowed to do any independent investigation into the case. Jurors must make their decision with the evidence presented to them in court. Jurors forever have been forbidden from speaking about their case yet most jurors do not believe that they are violating the rule when they post to social media site.
This is an issue that is not isolated to Massachusetts court. Judges and lawyers across the nation will be having a problem with jurors and social media.