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Preventing the "Google Mistrial": Challenge Posed by Jurors who use the Internet and Social Media

You finished closing arguments yesterday in a difficult, two-week-long trial. The jury has been out for almost a full day now. Your client, who has a lot resting on the outcome and is at risk of having to pay out a lot of money, turns to you and asks, for what seems like the twelfth time, "What is going on in there? What is taking them so long to reach a verdict?"

Rather than repeat the same answer you've given the last three times the question was asked-the one about sifting through the evidence-you shrug your shoulders, hold out your hand palm upward, and mutter, "I don't know."

You look up and notice your tech-savy associate, who has worked with you tirelessly on the case, running toward you, holding out her Blackberry. "Look at this," se says. "Jurror number 4 is tweeting about the deliberations."

You take the Blackberry and look at the screen. The entry on Jurror number 4's Twitter page reads, " This is it. No looking back now!" What exactly does this mean? you wonder. Curious, you scroll down and find that this jurror has been tweeting throughout the trial:

"Court. Day 5. Here we go again."

" I guess I'm early. Two Angry Men just won't do."

"...can't believe tomorrow may actually be the end [of trial]!!!"

"Day 1 of deliberations has come to a close."

"I don't know which way to go, so I'm holding a poll."

As you scroll back up to the top of the page, you notice a new tweet from Juror number 4: " Stay tuned for the big announcement." Just then, your cell phone rings. The judge's law clerk informs you that the jury has reached a verdict.

You walk quickly back to court, hoping that Juror number 4's next tweet isn't going to say something like " So, what did I do today? Oh nothing really. I just gave away TWELVE MILLION DOLLARS of somebody else's money!"

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