The Boston Criminal Lawyer Blog has repeatedly told you that the participants of the criminal justice system…even the judges…are merely human beings. .
However, sometimes appropriate behavior for some folks is inappropriate for others.
For example,let’s say that, while driving home one evening, you saw someone who you believed to be a drunk driver plow into a tree. As the police respond to the scene, the driver gets out of his car and starts verbally accosting the tree with protests like, “Why don’t you watch where you are going?!”
Finding this behavior rather odd , you might decide to tweet or blog about the experience.
Now let’s add to the scenario that you are a Superior Court judge. Do you still think it is such a great idea to post the adventure?
In fact, it would not be. There is a standard for the behavior certain professions demand. It might seem “unjudicial” for a judge to be spouting off his or her views about such instances. Similarly, you would not expect a judge to start tweeting or blogging about behavior he witnessed attorneys engage in during court proceedings.
In a trial, be it civil or criminal, a jury is, in fact, a judge. Juries generally decide the facts-at-issue. This is why jury selection exists. While human beings do have their prejudices, it is important to do all that is possible to select those who can be fair and impartial in the case upon which they sit.
While many parties might complain how they are treated while in court, juries are generally treated quite well. True, like the rest of us, they will be kept waiting, but they are treated like the judges they, in fact, are while they are sitting. Therefore, what they do while they are not in court, as long as their cases are continuing, is important.
It is important that no outside influence come to interfere with the jurors’ ability to decide the case based upon the evidence that was admitted and the law as the judge gave it to them. Likewise, it is unseemly for a juror to be blogging or tweeting about an ongoing case.
We discussed a case in which a federal court judge decided that a re-hearing on a capital case was appropriate because the defendant may not have had an impartial jury because of a juror’s dishonesty during initial questioning. Many people might find that to be a wrong result. They might find it to be “nitpicking”.
They would not, however, be of the same opinion if it were they or one of their loved ones wearing the banner of “Defendant.”
I have tried many cases before juries both before and after I was a Boston criminal lawyer. It is my experience that jurors try to live up to the standard that is set for them in general. At the same time, the courts tend to treat the sitting jurors like judges. This is why the courtroom must rise when they enter or leave the courtroom.
If you question the importance of how jurors think, what jurors feel and how jurors are treated…just ask yourself who is having the final word on the facts at issue in a trial.