The American Bar Association’s eReport for this week has an article about blogging jurors. After a conviction, a New Hampshire juror was found to have blogged some opinions before the trial that might have revealed a pro-prosecution bias. However, the state’s Supreme Court did not throw out the guilty verdict.
“It’s very hard, once there’s a verdict, to go back and show juror misconduct,” says Richard Guerriero, the New Hampshire Public Defender litigation director. “The defense has to show actual prejudice.”
The article links to my own recent posts about my stint on a criminal jury. The reporter, Molly McDonough, called me earlier in the week to confirm that there was a real human behind the blog before she linked to me.
We talked a bit about how lawyers and reporters are both interested in learning more about what goes on during deliberations. She told me that in Illinois the lawyers are sometimes allowed to talk to the jury in the court immediately after a trial—this had happened on the civil case I sat for a few years ago—but that they are not allowed to contact jurors after they leave.
That’s good to know. One of the reasons I used fake names in the jury duty posts is that I’d rather the lawyers on the losing side didn’t find them and start arguing with me. You wouldn’t think they’d bother, but after the civil case I got stuck riding the courthouse elevator with the losing plaintiff and his lawyer, and the latter made several pointed comments.
Now that I think about it, the lawyer made those comments to his client, but made sure that I could hear them too. Sneaky. Also pointless, since the case was over. He was just trying to make me feel guilty. I didn’t want a bloggy repeat of that.
Ms. McDonough asked me if I thought what I write in my blog should come into play in any future jury selection. I said I don’t have dog in that fight. Whether a lawyer strikes me or not is up to him. I wouldn’t take it personally.
She asked if I’d be surprised if I got questioned about stuff in my blog, and I told her that on a big enough case it wouldn’t surprise me at all if lawyers Googled my name and asked me about stuff they found. When I decided to start blogging, I knew all sorts of people would be able to know a lot more about me.