Does Juror Pool Gossip and Chatter Prevent Fair Trials?
In the last week, potential jurors have been dismissed in murder trials in Pasco and Hillsborough counties for disobeying orders from the court to refrain from talking with others about the case. Pasco County Circuit Court Judge Susan Gardner dismissed a panel of potential jurors because one or more of the potential jurors talked about the defendant’s prior murder conviction. In March, Judge Gardner dismissed the entire jury panel after one juror made utterances about the defendant in front of other potential jurors. Just yesterday, Hillsborough County Circuit Court Judge William Fuente dismissed an entire jury panel after he learned that potential jurors gossiped about the defendant’s unrelated pending murder charges.
The judges in these cases should be applauded for protecting a criminal defendant’s right to a fair trial. How often does this misconduct go undetected and how much does it effect the verdict in criminal trials? Most jurors today have internet access at the touch of their fingertips and some conduct unauthorized internet searches on defendants. These internet searches result in newspaper articles and other information about the case that jurors should not have knowledge of before or during a trial.
The criminal defense attorneys at the Mander Law Group would like to hear from you if you have been a witness to or directly involved in this type of juror misconduct while serving on a jury.