- Journal Archives
- Volume 18
- Volume 17
- Volume 16
- Volume 15
- Volume 14
- Volume 13
- Volume 12
- Volume 11
- Volume 10
- Volume 9
- Volume 8
- Volume 7
- Volume 6
- Volume 5
- Volume 4
- Volume 3
- Volume 2
- Volume 1
A juror in Arlington, Texas found out the hard way that sending a Facebook friend request to the defendant in his case was a bad idea. Jonathan Hudson was a juror in a civil auto accident trial when he decided to send a friend request to Courtney Downing, the defendant. Downing immediately notified her lawyer about the friend request, and the lawyer informed the presiding judge. Hudson had also written on his Facebook page that he was selected to be on a jury. He was charged with four counts of contempt of court and dismissed from the case. The trial proceeded with eleven jurors.
Chris Ponder, the prosecutor, stated, “I’ve never seen this before.” He acknowledges that this likely will not be the first time a juror sends a friend request to a party in a case. With over 750 million active Facebook users, it is only inevitable that a juror will make this mistake again.
Hudson pled guilty to the four counts of contempt of court and was sentenced to two days of community service. After the court dismissed Hudson from the case, he contacted Downing and apologized to her, claiming that he believed she was someone else. According to court records, Downing did not believe Hudson’s excuse.
Hudson made a big mistake, but I wonder, how explicit were the jury instructions? If they did not state that a juror cannot send a Facebook friend request to a party in the case, should Hudson have been held liable? Probably so. Jury instructions usually include language about impartiality, and being a Facebook friend with someone does not make them impartial in the courtroom. Some would argue that they do not know the thousands of friends they have on Facebook, so they could be impartial as a juror. However, that is a fuzzy standard and it would be difficult to determine whether or not someone knows his Facebook friend well enough to preclude him from serving as a juror in the case. Either way, it seems as though jury instructions will have to start explicitly addressing issues that the myriad of social networking sites have raised.
– Sophia Behnia
Recent Blog Posts
- Centralizing Cybersecurity in the Digital Age
- Justice Department Deals a Blow to Songwriters
- If You Build It, They Will Come: Baseball and the Reopening of Cuba
- First Circuit Aligns With Third: Actavis Extends Beyond Cash Settlements
- Current Issues in Technology Law: Dr. Asma Vranaki Analyzes Data Privacy Regulation in the Context of Facebook Advertisements
- Vanderbilt Journal of Entertainment & Technology Law Rises in National Law Journal Rankings
Tagsadvertising antitrust Apple books career celebrities contracts copyright copyright infringement courts creative content criminal law entertainment Facebook FCC film/television financial First Amendment games Google government intellectual property internet JETLaw journalism lawsuits legislation media medicine Monday Morning JETLawg music NFL patents privacy progress publicity rights radio social networking sports Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) technology telecommunications trademarks Twitter U.S. Constitution