Untangling the Web: How Courts Should Respond to Juries Using the Internet for Research
Reynolds Courts & Media Law Journal, Vol. 1, p. 169, Spring 2011
28 Pages Posted: 20 Feb 2011 Last revised: 2 Jul 2014
Date Written: May 15, 2011
During trials jurors are increasingly using cell phones and other devices capable of accessing the Internet. Courts are responding by amending court rules to explicitly ban these devices. This Article identifies weaknesses in the arguments against allowing jurors to conduct outside research, including Internet research, during civil trials. This Article reviews the current justifications for prohibiting jurors from accessing outside information during trial and concludes these justifications do not outweigh the need to give jurors the tools necessary for evaluating the issues arising during increasingly complex trials. In particular, a review of the scientific literature on the effects of outside information and pre-trial publicity on jury decision-making shows that some concerns about outside Internet research may be unwarranted. The Article also discusses how the concerns raised by Internet research are similar to the issues involving outside research through traditional print sources such as newspapers, statutes, and encyclopedias.
Keywords: Pretrial Publicity, Jury Misconduct, Internet Use, Rules of Evidence, Extrajudicial Information, Outside Research
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation