Does Juror Misconduct Really Happen in Child Abuse Trials? (Part 1)

December 1, 2017 Abuse and Neglect Attorney
Scales of justice
Juror misconduct throws an entire trial into question, and violates the rights of the defendant!

Juror misconduct doesn’t happen in real life, does it? Surely that’s something that only happens in the movie, right?  Sadly, that’s wrong. The researchers at DOAR, a trial consulting firm, recently shared the results of years of research and the tale they tell is surprising to say the least. And frightening! Juror misconduct, as it turns out, is actually happening more often than we realize. And unsurprisingly, the internet plays a huge role in this problem! 

Is juror misconduct really happening during trials?…

According to Marlee Kind Dillon, PhD, a jury consultant at DOAR who was part of the research team , the biggest issue was getting jurors to admit their misconduct. Obviously, no one wants to own up to their illegal activity. Which is why no jurors are likley to admit that they’ve violated a judge’s instructions. With that in mind, how do you get to the truth? Well,… the same way everyone else does – an anonymous online survey. So were they able to get to the bottom of this? Is rampant juror misconduct really an issue?

Yes it is! And it happens more often than you thought!

According to the results of their survey, juror misconduct happens SO MUCH more often than anyone imagined! But how? How are jurors violating court orders and getting away with it? Apparently, the primary method is online research. More than half of the jurors polled admitted to researching information about the case online during the trial. Previous survey results, which were conducted by the courts and didn’t guarantee anonymity, looked nothing like this! Which means that not only were jurors violating court orders, but they were lying about it to boot!

How often does juror misconduct happen?

In total 56% of the jurors polled admitted that they’ve used the internet to research details about the case. What were they searching for? All kinds of things, it seems. These were the subjects they researched:

The Law as it related to the case – 56%

The Judge presiding over the court – 47%

Articles about the case – 40%

The Attorneys involved – 38%

The defendant (the accused) – 34%

So, why do they do it?

When asked, the jurors said that the main reasons why they searched for information online, was curiosity. They just wanted to know more than they were being told. They also claimed they did it because they didn’t understand the law.  Apparently, in order to make a more informed decision as jurors, they wanted to know what the law said. Other reasons given were, “I thought the news would give me information the court was leaving out” and “I didn’t understand something about the case.”

We understand – these reasons do sound legitimate. However, while they may sound like good reasons, looking up outside information on a case is a violation of court orders. It’s also a violation of the rights of both parties involved in the case. Why? Because it’s the right of both parties involved in a case to have the jury consider ONLY the evidence that’s presented in court.

How could this affect the outcome of a child abuse trial?

Well, when you consider how much the “court of public opinion” weighs in on abuse and neglect allegations, the implications are huge! Because society is taught to always believe the victim, regardless of whether or not their story is factual, the accused is rarely given a chance to defend themselves.

This is made worse by the media, where they are often depicted as a violent or abusive person before ever having a chance to defend themselves. So for jurors searching online for more info about an abuse or neglect case, what they’re likely to find is opinion, not fact! And if that opinion sways their decision, it is both incredibly unfair to the accused, and also a terrible miscarriage of justice!

An experienced child abuse attorney can make a big difference in your case!

Join us next time as we continue this discussion about juror misconduct, and the effect it has on child abuse and neglect trials! Until then, if you or a loved one have been accused of abusing or neglecting a child, call The Kronzek Firm immediately at 866 766 5245. Our skilled abuse and neglect defense attorneys are here to help!