Mass. court warns jurors about online comments

Monday May 14, 2012

BOSTON (AP) - Massachusetts jurors have long been told by judges to refrain from discussing cases they are weighing outside the courtroom, but judges are now being told to expand those instructions to include social media sites.

The Massachusetts Appeals Court in a recent case said "instructions not to talk or chat about the case should expressly extend to electronic communications and social media," including Facebook and Twitter.

The ruling was made in a case where several jurors in a larceny trial made comments on Facebook. Those posts elicited responses from friends. Despite the online postings, the verdict was upheld.

Experts tell The Boston Globe judges should not only instruct a juror to not discuss the case on the Internet, but explain why, including the possibility of a mistrial and the associated costs.


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