SAN FRANCISCO – Jurors who threaten to derail trials by researching them on Google or posting comments on Twitter are often dismissed with a mere tongue-lashing from a judge.
But that may change in California. Legislation supported by state court officials would authorize judges in some counties to fine jurors up to $1,500 for social media and Internet use violations, which have led to mistrials and overturned convictions around the country.
Supporters say a potential fine would give teeth to existing prohibitions against social media and Internet use and simplify the process for holding wayward jurors accountable.
But critics question whether it will have any practical effect on jurors who are constantly on sites such as Facebook and Twitter and suggest judges vet the social media activity of potential jurors before seating them.