Thanks for joining us again for this talk about juror misconduct and how it could influence the outcome in child abuse trials. In our previous article we looked at how how often juror misconduct is actually happening, and why jurors researched the cases they were hearing. Next up we’re going to look at what the law says about it, and other ways that jurors admitted to breaking the law as well.
Why can’t jurors research the cases they’re serving on?
As Brandy Thompson reminds us, “If the information doesn’t get discussed openly in the courtroom, then it isn’t evidence that the jury may legally consider.” Michigan judges give clear instructions to jurors before a trial starts, about what they can and can’t consider during their deliberations. If a juror violates that order from the judge, then it’s possible that they could face contempt charges. In addition, a mistrial is probable. This creates an enormous amount of work for both the prosecution and the defense, as they would be forced to start the process over.
Is age or gender a factor in juror misconduct?
There were a number of other interesting facts about juror misconduct revealed by the survey. For example, older jurors are less likely to violate court law than their younger counterparts. Another factor was education – college educated jurors tended to violate the court’s orders for juror conduct more often than non-college educated jurors.
Sadly, we’re not done yet. Age and education weren’t the only factors in juror misconduct – gender played a role as well! Survey results showed that male jurors are more likely to violate the rules than female jurors. Oddly enough, where you come from may also impact your desire to break the rules. It seems jurors from New York state and California did more online research during trials than jurors from any other state.
Did jurors break the law in other ways too?
Who would have though there were so many ways to violate court orders as a juror! Turns out we’re not done yet. The survey also showed that jurors also violated the court’s instruction in other ways, including:
- Talking to their friends and family members about the case.
- Talking to other jurors about the case before the deliberations started.
- Posting to social media accounts about the case.
Child abuse and neglect cases are particularly susceptible
When you consider the reasons provided by jurors for why they research cases online, it shines a light on the difficulties faced during child abuse cases. Unlike most other types of crimes, the only evidence usually present during a child abuse case are the injuries and illnesses that children suffer. Which means that jurors will have lots of questions.
Something else to bear in mind, is that the court has no control over the media. The information provided via the internet or TV might not be totally accurate. In fact, it could be entirely false, full of assumptions and lies. There’s no way to ensure that “outside” information is reliable or true..
Join us next time, when we will be looking at the conclusions drawn by this research group, and the implications that they believe it may have for trials all over the US. Until then, if you or a loved one have been accused of a crime and need strong and aggressive legal representation, call The Kronzek Firm immediately at 866 766 5245. Our highly skilled defense attorneys have been defending the people of Michigan for decades, and we are here to help you as well!