Thursday, December 16, 2010

Texas Jurors Not to Be Swayed by Facebook

The Texas Supreme Court released proposed amendments to the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure that, among other things, would hammer home the point that the internets are no place for jurors to be hanging out.

Proposed Rule 226a would change the mandatory instructions that trial judges would give to potential jurors on a panel, and to the jury once selected, in several ways. The current rule was last amended in 2005, and makes no mention of the internet. But the proposed new rule includes the following instructions:

  • Do not discuss this case with anyone, even your spouse or a friend, either in person or by any other means [including by phone, text message, email message, chat room, blog, or social networking websites such as Facebook, Twitter, or Myspace]. Do not allow anyone to discuss the case with you or in your hearing. If anyone tries to discuss the case with you or in your hearing, tell me immediately. We do not want you to be influenced by something other than the evidence admitted in court.

  • Do not investigate this case on your own. For example:
a. Do not try to get information about the case, lawyers, witnesses, or issues from outside this courtroom.

b. Do not go to places mentioned in the case to inspect the places.

c. Do not inspect items mentioned in this case unless they are presented as evidence in court.

d. Do not look anything up in a law book, dictionary, or public record to try to learn more about the case.

e. Do not look anything up on the Internet to try to learn more about the case.

f. And do not let anyone else do any of these things for you.

From here.

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