Local News

NC courts reminding jurors about conduct

Posted April 2, 2012 2:56 p.m. EDT

— North Carolina's court system is posting rules in courthouses across the state to remind jurors about what they cannot do when it comes to communicating with others.

A spokesman for the North Carolina Administrative Office of the Courts said Monday that the move comes after conversations with employees in the state court system and from recent news headlines.

Last month, a Superior Court judge in Wake County ordered the State Bureau of Investigation to look into allegations that a juror was texting someone outside the jury about the progress of deliberations in the first-degree murder trial of Jason Young, who was found guilty March 5 of killing his wife in November 2006.

The SBI is still investigating the claims.

Two jurors in the case were dismissed prior to opening statements for talking about it, including one who posted on an Internet message board.

The poster, "Communication Rules for Jurors," features a cellphone with four rules written inside it:

1. TURN OFF your mobile devices while court is in session.
2. DO NOT talk to anyone, or let anyone talk to you about the case.
3. DO NOT receive or send electronic communications about the case.
4. DO NOT seek outside information from the Internet or other sources.

The advent of social media and more access to technology is becoming a challenge for courts across the country.

The Wall Street Journal recently published a report on how social media is making it easier and more tempting for jurors to break the rules and that lawyers are increasingly using it as a reason for appeals.

In December, a murder case in Arkansas was thrown out because a juror had been tweeting during the trial, and a Florida juror was held in contempt of court because he friended a defendant on Facebook, the newspaper reported.