At its last meeting, the Judicial Conference Committee on Court Administration and Case Management (CACM) endorsed a set of suggested jury instructions that federal district judges are to consider using to help deter jurors from using electronic technologies to research or communicate about cases on which they serve.
The CACM Committee developed these instructions to address the increasing incidence of juror use of such devices as cellular telephones, BlackBerries, or computers to conduct research on the Internet or communicate with others about cases. Such use has resulted in mistrials, exclusion of jurors, and, even, imposition of fines. The suggested instructions specifically inform jurors that they are prohibited from using these technologies in the courtroom, in deliberations, or outside the courthouse to communicate about or research cases on which they currently serve.
The instructions admonish the jurors to decide the case based solely on the evidence presented within the four walls of the courtroom. It also notes in part that jurors may not communicate with anyone about the case on a cell phone, through e-mail, BlackBerry, iPhone, text messaging or on Twitter.