By: Nathan Geronimo
I have written several articles about litigants running into trouble when their testimony is contradicted by their own postings on social media websites. A recent case from Sacramento illustrates a unique twist on the interplay between social media and court proceedings: the effect of juror posts on a defendant’s right to a fair trial.
Juror Number One v. Superior Court involved a juror posting comments on his Facebook wall about evidence presented at trial while the trial was in progress. Following the trial and conviction on assault charges, the Court became aware of the Facebook activity, and held a subsequent juror misconduct hearing based on Juror One’s trial posts. Juror One admitted posting comments on Facebook during the trial, but denied that the posts were about the trial or any evidence presented. For example, Juror One admitted to posting that he was so bored one day during trial that he almost fell asleep. He also invited a female juror to be his Facebook “friend.” At the conclusion of the misconduct hearing, the Court was satisfied that there had been clear misconduct, but had further questions about the degree of misconduct, and whether it had been prejudicial to the trial. Counsel for the real party in interest then issued a subpoena to Juror One for all postings by Juror One during the trial, including all emails and other electronic communications. Juror One moved to quash the subpoena as overbroad. The Court agreed that the subpoena was overbroad, but issued an order requiring Juror One to turn over all of his Facebook postings during trial to the Court for in camera review.