New jury video tackles smartphones

Last week, I wrote about a Snohomish County child sex case that ended in a mistrial after a juror disobeyed the judge’s orders and did his own online research.

The case highlighted an increasing concern about the potential for more mistrials because jurors are used to being connected to instant sources of information. Judges here warn jurors to avoid social media sites, such as Facebook and Twitter, which could contain information about the case that jurors are ordered to avoid.

The same week the story ran, the U.S. Courts for the Ninth Circuit announced that a new jury orientation video had been created. The 18-minute video replaces one made years ago, which doesn’t address such issues as jurors’ use of smartphones and other electronic devices.

The new video is being distributed to jury administrators in the 15 U.S. district courts in the Ninth Circuit, which includes Washington. It explains the jury selection process and includes comments from retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor and a number of former jurors.

The video can be viewed here.

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