Our friends at the New York Times tipped us off to a story about a federal drug trial in Florida that was declared a mistrial when jurors admitted to the judge that they had illegally researched and event-posted information about the trial on the Internet thanks to Google, their iPhones and even their Blackberrys.
“We were stunned,” defense lawyer Peter Raben told the New York Times. “It’s the first time modern technology struck us in that fashion, and it hit us right over the head.”
And with the world literally in the palm of jurors' hands, the problem of illegally posting information or researching trials online is causing problems in courtrooms across the country.
iPhones and Blackberrys are not the only technology items to blame for ruining the once pristine world of Perry Mason. The New York Times also reported that a Tweeting juror in a $12.6 million Arkansas case against a building products company caused the builder to ask the ruling against it be overturned. Flipping Twitter.
Some experts believe the problem could grow worse as more and more people buy smart phones and learn the ease of Twitter and Facebook. Journalists all over have already employed the smart phone, Twitter and even Facebook in their reporting.
Reporters' smart phones took followers inside the courtroom of the Hans Reiser murder trial in Oakland last year where cameras could not go. Instead of having to wait to hear what happened in court at the end of the day, reporters were able to update their blogs from their Blackberrys and tweet from their iPhones.
Think of how much more annoying the OJ Simpson trial would have been if the iPhone had existed in 1994? Could you imagine the dangers of a rhyming Johnnie Cochran equipped with an iPhone? We can just see his tweet now, "if you can't put the verdict on the tweet you must let my man walk the street."