Tweeting Jurors Will Face Jail In California
October 31, 2011
Going further than his predecessor was willing to go, California Governor Jerry Brown has criminalized juror tweeting. Under AB 141, which will go into effect on January 1, 2012, any juror who willfully disobeys the court admonishment against any form of communication or research about the case, including tweeting, may be sent to jail for contempt.
Courts already tell jurors not to talk about an ongoing trial, but under the new law, they will be further told not to do any research or spread any information on any subject of the trial. This admonishment will explicitly apply to “all forms of electronic and wireless communication.”
The SF Chronicle reports that this new law was prompted by many reports of jurors’ using electronic devices to “sidestep judges’ warnings against outside research or contacts.” Jurors have been known to research the defendant’s criminal record and check out crime scenes online.
This may feel a bit like deja vu, because a similar bill came up last year, but was vetoed by then-Governor Schwarzenegger, who, according to the ABA Journal, believed the current warnings to jurors were adequate. Apparently they were not enough for Governor Brown.