Facebook may have become a highly valuable source of evidence for courts, but at the same time it has also become quite a complication for the whole legal system. Social networking sites and the Internet in general make it very easy for jurors to learn more about those involved in the case. Such events could possibly compromise the final decision of the juror, and are thereby prohibited. Unfortunately, some people don’t follow the court’s rules, especially when there’s a pretty face involved.
Jacob Jock had been chosen for jury duty on a personal injury lawsuit despite his fervent hopes of being skipped. Bored with the proceedings, he went on to use his smart phone to see if he knew any of those who were involved in the case despite being implicitly warned by the judge against using the internet to research the case. During his search, he came upon the Facebook page of Violetta Milerman, the defendant who, as it turned out, was rather attractive. Not thinking that he would be chosen to actually serve on the jury, he sent the girl a friend request. However, when he really was chosen as a member of the jury, the girl went and told her attorney about the friend request. Jock was promptly dismissed from jury duty on the second day of the trial, effectively wasting the time of the court and all those involved.
The judge admonished Jock for not heeding her instructions but Jock was not the least bit contrite. He immediately went on to his Facebook friends about getting dismissed from jury duty, saying “Score… I got dismissed!! Apparently they frown upon sending a friend request to the defendant… haha”.
A law has recently been passed inCaliforniathat seeks to impose some jail time on those jurors who have compromised a case by posting about it on the Internet. In fact, just last June, one woman was prosecuted for contempt of court because she tried to use Facebook to contact the defendant on a drug case. Jock’s posts did not really reveal much about the case, which was probably why he got off easy. His comments did not go unnoticed; however, and one attorney even said that Jock was very close to getting some jail time for his actions.