Should Jurors Be Allowed To Blog?

A friend sent me a link to this story from the upcoming issue of National Law Journal about a jury foreman who had been blogging, and I was disappointed to find out the juror had not actually live blogged the trial, but had posted a few comments on his blog about not looking forward to jury duty. I had pictured a running commentary something like this: 

10:19 a.m. This guy talking must be the lawyer for the criminal.  Boooorrrrinnnggg.  The judge is sure messing with his computer a lot. You know, I bet he’s playing cards up there and isn’t paying any attention at all.  I think I might be playing him online right now in a Hearts game.

11:37 a.m. Holy cow, this is taking a long time. Can’t we just vote guilty and get out of here? My leg is asleep. The Young and the Restless is going to be on soon. I can see the defendant/creep/guilty guy has tattoos.  I’ve noticed that 99.99999 percent of criminals wear tattoos. You know, it’s an old saying, but it’s a saying because it’s so true: they don’t arrest you unless you’re guilty.  On second thought, let’s not wrap this up until after lunch, if I have to go through this much, I at least want some free food out of it.  I’m the foreman, so I’m voting for Thai food. 

3:30 p.m. Just woke up from nap.  That Thai food made me sleepy. If anyone is reading my blog from the courtroom audience, can you post a comment on what I missed? 

3:51 p.m. Thanks to Angie in the comments for filling me in on what happened during my siesta, you’re right, this dude is one bad hombre.  I know just how I’m going to deliver the verdict: "Your honor, we the jury find the defendant guilty as hell!"    

4:30 p.m. Jeez, looks like the criminal isn’t even going to testify.  You know, I’ve watched enough legal shows on TV to know that means you’re guilty, but hey, I knew that already. I’m pretty bummed tho, the criminal looks like he has a tattoo of an ax on his Adam’s apple, I wanted to see if it makes a chopping motion when he got up and talked and lied about not doing it.

5:30 p.m. There’s some really good people on this jury, looks like we’re gonna get this done quick, we’ll take a vote just as soon as all the jurors get done with their blog entries. 

5:47 p.m. Whew, what a relief! I thought this one juror might be some hippie, power to the people, let ’em go type of guy, but he was totally like, let’s pull the chain on this loser, man, I want to get back to my crystal store for the beading class I’m teaching tonight.  

6:15 p.m. Justice in the rear view mirror.  Glad that’s done. You could see the criminal guy expected it because you know why? Because he knows he’s guilty, that’s why, he knows what he did. See you in about 40 years, loser.  I just wish there was one final part and that’s where the jurors and the whole courtoom get to pelt the convict with rotten fruit and eggs.  That would be the real People’s Court, baby. OK, baliff, just hand me my 35 bucks per diem or whatever, give me my lovely parting gifts, validate my parking and I’m out of here.  What a waste of time!  

It was nothing like that at all, so I’m not sure what the big deal is. The blog posts weren’t even about this particular case, and didn’t seem particularly biased against criminal defendants. Sure, he had an entry about having to listen to "the local riff-raff," but he was probably referring to the lawyers. 

I did look up the case in question — New Hampshire v. Goupil  — and it’s from last year.  Here’s a link. The stuff you want to read starts on page 4, third paragraph.  Kevin O’Keefe has some more thoughts and some links to still more thoughts on this issue.  (Full disclosure: Kevin is a consultant for this blog and hundreds more through his company Lexblog).

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