As we have previously written, juror use of new technological tools like Twitter, Facebook and Google have been causing havoc in courtrooms around the country. Kudos to Superior Court presiding Judge Joseph Rodgers for issuing a new policy that addresses this issue.
Judge Joseph F. Rodgers Jr. can rattle off what he’s told jurors at the end of a day of testimony for the last three decades.
Don’t discuss the trial. Or form any opinions. Or read, listen to or watch the news.
One day, Rodgers, Superior Court presiding justice, looked around and realized things were changing. Judges elsewhere were declaring mistrials over jurors conducting Google searches, updating Facebook, and using something called Twitter in courts from Philadelphia to England.
“The fact is young people now, because of their training, their lifestyle, they’re much more intelligent than we old folks are in terms of accessibility and what info can be retrieved instantaneously,” he said. “That does present a serious problem.”
Until now, Rhode Island took jurors at their word that they wouldn’t talk about the case or conduct outside research. But on May 4, Rodgers handed out a revised juror policy to Superior Court judges, one that puts the emphasis on technology and eliminates some of the wiggle room left before by the technology gap.