The Case of the Juror with Twitchy Thumbs

In recent years, trial judges have had to expand the instruction given to jurors at the beginning of trial that they may not read any news accounts of the trial or do any independent research to include the admonition not to Tweet, blog, or post on Facebook about the trial until the case is over.  Many also remind jurors not to use their cell phones during the trial.

According to the Oregonian newspaper, a trial judge in Salem, Oregon noticed a glow on a juror’s chest while the courtroom lights were dimmed so jurors could watch a surveillance video. The juror was texting.

And spent the next two days in jail for contempt of court.


13 thoughts on “The Case of the Juror with Twitchy Thumbs

  1. Hearing about situations where someone has been advised, (Well, warned) not to use their cell phones and they do anyway makes me wonder why people think the rules only apply to somebody else. And why in the world would a juror be allowed to HAVE a cell phone in a courtroom during a trial? Was this juror allowed back on the jury?

    • The juror was removed from the jury and an alternate seated. The juror then spent 3 days in jail for contempt. In many courthouses, visitors are required to leave cell phones with marshals or bailiffs at the entrance. I can see letting jurors bring phones in, so they can check with babysitters on breaks and so on, but I imagine the bailiffs in this county will now be checking to make sure jurors leave their phones in the jury room!

  2. When I sat on a capital murder trial many years ago our phones were ‘checked in’ by the bailiff and kept in the jury room. We could request and use them during breaks but could not take them into the courtroom.

  3. A few years ago on a murder trial the judge gave us those instructions and said that all cells be turned off. At breaks and other waiting times outside the courtroom, people talked and texted like crazy, but in the courtroom, nada. I was glad to see that sometimes there’s respect

  4. This juror did this in the courtroom, while evidence was being presented, right in front of the judge. Hubris abounds. I’ve been watching the Jodi Arias trial and can’t help but wonder about how many of those jurors, nonsequestered, are taking peeks at HLN shows that have been covering the trial–Dr. Drew, Nancy Grace, Jane Velez Mitchell.

  5. The other day, I heard a news story about employers complaining that potential employees sometimes text during job interviews. I didn’t think anything could top that story, but you may have done it.

    • BK, that’s astounding. My husband is a doctor of natural medicine and says patients sometimes take phone calls during appointments; haven’t heard of any texting — yet!

  6. Leslie,

    It’s not just jurors that judges have to worry about. I am the author of Killer Nurse, a true crime coming out in August. The book is about the dialysis nurse who killed patients by injecting them with bleach.

    But what I wanted to tell you, cameras and things weren’t allowed in the courtroom, nor was pictures and things allowed of the jurors.

    During voir dire, a TV reporter posted about the selection of a juror using the phone—posted it on Facebook. There was some mad people in that courtroom. I thought one of the defense attorneys was going to kill her.

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