Google reveals bias of juror, who is removed from Citigroup case

More recently, the courts have been faced with jurors who posted tweets to their Twitter account. More specifically, a $12 million verdict against Stoam Holdings has been appealed due to a juror posting tweets including “oh and nobody buy Stoam. Its [sic] bad mojo and they’ll probably cease to Exist, now that their wallet is 12m lighter.” http://commonlaw.findlaw.com/2009/03/twitter-trials-juror-johnathans-tweets-cause-12-million-verdict-appeal-reporter-tweets-a-federal-tri.html

One federal judge was approached about allowing a reporter to tweet during a trial, which was allowed: http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2009/03/09/scitech/pcanswer/main4853008.shtml
Judge Martan told the AP afterwards “The more we can do to open the process to the public, the greater the public understanding,”

In Charleston, SC in October 2010 a local TV station tweeted summaries of testimony during a murder trial. http://www.live5news.com/Global/story.asp?S=13307478 (“News travels at the speed of technology”)

Now on to the Google-related story. A juror already seated on a civil trial against Citigroup became a bit suspect to the defense attorneys when the female juror (Donna Gianell) stopped taking her extensive notes of the trial when Citigroup was putting up its defense. A Google search by the defense’s law firm revealed that the juror was listed in the credits of Michael Moore’s film “Capitalism: A Love Story” which has been described as one in which in which Citigroup was the target of scorn. Even more interesting was the fact that, after the juror was questioned in the courtroom, Judge Rakoff said he thought the female juor “was lying” and then removed her from her status as a juror in the case, according to the court transcript, as reported by the NY Daily News. http://www.nydailynews.com/news/ny_crime/2010/11/02/2010-11-02_citigroup_wants_woman_credited_in_michael_moores_capitalism_a_love_story_off_jur.html?r=news

Thus, the idea of tweeting in a courtroom remains decidedly against the proper behavior for a juror, but it appears perfectly fine for a news reporter. Nothing appears to be improper for an attorney to Google a juror, but it seems nigh impossible in my trial practice to Google a juror during the brief selection process. This lesson is to go ahead and conduct a Google search after the jury is seated and sworn. This, I just may do next time, particularly in some of my bigger, longer cases.

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About MaxLaw843

Max is an attorney and a member of Grimball & Cabaniss, LLC where he has practiced litigation since 1987, concentrating in construction, personal injury, and business litigation. He also has handled quite a number of appellate cases. In the community, he is past president of the Scottish Society of Charleston, Inc. and is the Chair of Church Council of Bethel United Methodist Church in downtown Charleston.
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