As Jurors Turn to Web, Mistrials Are Popping Up [Free registration may be required]
Facebook, Twitter throw US legal system into disarray
Fumo Guilty on All Counts
The Curse of the Information Society
Stanford Technology Law Review
Scientific American: Technology's Toll on Privacy and Security
Technology is never a neutral force in human society, and it would seem that the increasing ubiquity of various web-enabled devices is having widespread ramifications that policy makers and philosophers are just beginning to consider. In the past several weeks, courtrooms in both Florida and Arkansas have been roiled by charges that jurors have used Google to research information about the case on the Internet, and one juror in Arkansas apparently was using the popular social networking and microblogging service Twitter to post updates on a civil trial. These activities fly in the face of most judges' directions to juries, which typically include a directive asking that jurors not seek outside information during the course of a trial. A few commentators and legal scholars have observed that some jurors believe they are doing a beneficial service by seeking out additional information about a case or a defendant, but others contend that this flies in the face of the adversary system that has developed over centuries of jurisprudence.
The first link will take users to a news article from this Tuesday's New York Times, which reports on the recent controversy surrounding the unauthorized use of technology by jurors in both Florida and Arkansas. The second link leads to a piece from ABC News in Australia which includes some commentary from Australian law professors about the differences between US and Australian law as regards juries. Moving on, the third link leads to a news article from MSNBC regarding the recent corruption trial of Pennsylvanian politician Vince Fumo. Interestingly enough, while a juror was accused of putting posts regarding the trial on his Facebook page and via Twitter, the juror was allowed to stay on. The fourth link will whisk users away to an editorial on this vexing subject from this Wednesday's Dallas Morning News, which begins with the line, "Sometimes you just have to put your hands up and step away from your Blackberry." The fifth link leads to the very fine Stanford Technology Law Review homepage. Here, visitors can read archived issues of the Review and look around to learn about upcoming events and symposia related to their work. Those persons interested in learning more about how technology is affecting modern society will be delighted to click on to the sixth link. Here they will find reports and commentaries with titles such as "How I Stole Someone's Identity" and "Who's Watching You: The Future of Privacy". It's a fascinating, if at times disturbing, look into such matters.