Popular Culture Review Vol. 28, No. 2, Summer 2017 - Page 27

had in years past.” 21 This occurrence is disruptive for many reasons. Use of data learned outside the confines of a trial is unfair to the defendant. To be admissible, evidence must be found to be material and relevant. It must also comply with the Rules of Evidence. Information found on the Internet may be inadmissible if challenged in a court of law, inaccurate and prejudicial and therefore should not be used to determine guilt. Smart phones have changed how jurors can access prohibited information. Jurors are no longer restricted to televisions, newspapers or magazines in the acquisition of information. They now have access to limitless amounts of data at their fingertips. 22 “Because the Internet is such a vast resource, the potential exists for jurors to do independent research on matters of law with more ease and stealth than going to the local law library would require.” 23 This occurred in a Florida drug case dubbed a Google mistrial. 24 Nine of the twelve jurors participating in that trial admitted to researching the case on the Internet. 25 Their research consisted of “locating information on the lawyers and the defendant, looking up news articles about the case, checking definitions on Wikipedia and searching for evidence that had been specifically excluded by the judge.” 26 The jurors’ actions caused the judge to declare a mistrial after eight weeks of testimony. Their misconduct was not discovered until after they had begun deliberating. Similarly, in Russo v. Takata Corp. 27 a juror’s Internet search resulted in the granting of a new trial after it was learned that a juror provided outside information to other jurors during deliberations. Snohomish County Superior Court Judge Richard T. Okrent declared a mistrial in a Washington case where a defendant was charged with sexually assaulting his young daughter. Grounds were based on the misconduct of a juror who, despite being told that jurors were to consider only evidence admitted in court, went onto the Internet and conducted his own research. 21 Kristin R. Brown , Somebody Poisoned the Jury Pool: Social Media's Effect on Jury Impartiality, 19 Tex. Wesleyan L. Rev. 809, 817 (2013). 22 Zora at 583. 23 Erika Patrick, Protecting the Defendant's Right to a Fair Trial in the Information Age, 15 Cap. Def. J. 71, 87 (2002). 24 John Shwartz, As Jurors Turn to the Web, Mistrial Are Popping Up, March 17, 2009. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/18/us/18juries.html?_r=0 Last visited May 31, 2017. 25 Douglas L. Keene and Rita R. Handrich, Online and Wired for Justice: Why J W&'2GW&FFRFW&WBb#GGwwrFVW'WW'B6#ƖRBv&VBf"֧W7F6Rv֧W&'2GW&FFR֖FW&WBFRЦvvR֗7G&7B66W76VB3#r#`6ԆVVBC#p'W76bFF6'#4B2##