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Ruling: Jurors must not tweet proceedings

May 14, 2012 at 2:28 PM
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BOSTON, May 14 (UPI) -- A Massachusetts appeals court is calling for judges to better inform jurors of the damage done by sharing case details on social media, officials say.

"Jurors must separate and insulate their jury service from their digital lives," said a court ruling referring to a case in which several jurors discussed details of a larceny trial on Facebook.

"Instructions not to talk about or chat about the case should expressly extend to electronic communications and social media," the ruling said.

The Boston Globe reported the ruling follows a national trend in response to mistrials caused by social media over-sharing. In Arkansas last year, a juror post the verdict on Twitter before the court was made aware of it, causing the court to overturn a murder conviction that carried the death penalty.

Eric Robinson, deputy director of the Donald W. Reynolds Center for Courts and Media at the University of Nevada, Reno, says it is important for judges to explain why jurors should not discuss proceedings on social media.

"It's a growing issue. There are ways to address it, but I don't think anyone has found a solution," he told the Globe. "The judge has to explain, 'This is why we're doing this. We'll have to have a retrial. We'll have to spend money.'"

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