Contempt of Court for Prospective Juror’s use of Internet Search Engine

Contempt of Court for Prospective Juror’s use of Internet Search Engine

 

Jurors facing jail time? That is the possible punishment for a former prospective juror in a capital murder case in Florida. After Judge William Fuente declared a mistrial due to jury members gossiping about a defendant in a Florida capital murder case, Judge Fuente amended the jury selection process. In the next case, he provided each member of the jury pool with an individual written order explicitly prohibiting any research on the defendant, Kenneth Ray Jackson. Disregarding the judge’s order, one of the prospective jurors, Vishnu P. Singh, “googled” the defendant’s name. According to the Tampa Bay Times, upon discovering the violation of his order, the judge told Mr. Singh to “to leave a valid address with the bailiffs and prepare to go to jail when he is called back. He then ordered Singh thrown out of the courthouse.”

The possibility of jurors being found in contempt of court for violating a judge’s jury selection protocol and order serves as a reminder of the importance of maintaining a fair and just judicial process for criminal defendants. While social media may generally have a positive effect in increasing public knowledge of current events, in the courthouse social media may prove problematic for all concerned.

For more information see: ABA Journal, Law Blog Online, and the Tampa Bay Times.