Friday, December 14, 2012

Trial Attorneys Beware - Legal Research Could Cause a Mistrial

A Washington paper reports on a mistrial due to a juror's legal research in an emotionally fraught criminal case. The  Everett Herald reports
A Snohomish County deputy prosecutor couldn't bring himself to force a 6-year-old girl to take the witness stand again to testify against her father -- the man accused of raping and molesting her.
The case was strong against the Bothell man. Eleven jurors had believed he was guilty before a mistrial was declared.
One juror had played by his own rules, ignoring repeated commands by the judge to only consider evidence presented at trial.
After the first day of testimony, the juror launched his own investigation.
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In the past, judges warned jurors to avoid stories in newspapers and radio and television broadcasts. Now, judges often have lengthy colloquies about what other sources of information jurors also should avoid, including Facebook, Twitter, blogs and text messages.
Trial attorneys must be prepared to work well with jurors. Fortunately, we have a number of books you might be interested in before your next case: