Welcome back and thanks for joining us again for this discussion on juror misconduct and child abuse trials. In our previous article we shared the new study on juror misconduct, which was conducted by the consulting firm DOAR. We looked at what jurors had anonymously admitted to doing during trials, including online research, discussing details with other jurors before the deliberations, and discussing the case with loved ones.
Jurors don’t follow the rules! So what now?
According to the researchers at DOAR, these results are in line with what they’d already suspected. And what was it they were suspicious of? That jurors regularly violate the court’s instructions! So the question now, is what can be done to stop it? DOAR readily admits they don’t have all the answers, but they do ask some very thought-provoking questions with the intention of forcing the legal community to think it over….
Let’s start with demographics. Research now shows that the people most likely to engage in juror misconduct are college educated non-white males. So now we know who. But we still don’t really understand why. Why is this specific group doing so much internet research during trials? What is it they’re searching for? Are they Bored? Is it idle curiosity? Nope, none of the above. The answer, as it turns out, is lack of understanding.
Jurors don’t think they’re given all of the necessary information
Most jurors say that the main reason they do online research is to better understand the law. A surprising number of jurors said that attorneys and judges did a poor job of explaining the law to them. They didn’t understand the information given to them in court. And so they felt compelled to go online, research the law, and find better information. But now that we know this, what could we could do differently in future to minimize this issue?
DOAR made several suggestions. One was pretty obvious – that the court needs to do a better job of explaining the law, as it relates to each case in question. They also pointed out that it should be done right at the start of the case, not at the very end. “When jurors are not given instructions on the law, or definitions of the elements of the alleged crimes until the very end of the trial, it’s no wonder they feel as though they need to go elsewhere to investigate for themselves.”
Attorneys need to keep this information in mind during trial prep!
Another suggestion DOAR researchers made has to do with the defense attorneys involved. They recommend that defense lawyers keep this info in mind, especially when preparing for trial. In other words, a lawyer should ALWAYS consider how online information could impact their trial strategy, and then adjust whenever possible. If an attorney assumes right from the start that jurors will be searching online during a trial, they can make adjustments to their presentation and angle. In child abuse cases this is particularly relevant, as the media has a startling influence on public opinion!
At The Kronzek Firm, our experienced child abuse defense attorneys are constantly researching the law and educating themselves in order to offer the best possible services to our clients. We understand the fact that the world changes in the blink of an eye, and we make it a point to be prepared for every eventuality. So if you or a loved one have been accused of child abuse or neglect in Michigan, please call us immediately at 866 766 5245. We are here to help you through this difficult time.