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Jury Instructions Research Guide: Internet/Social Media

Jury instructions are directions from the judge to the jury regarding the applicable law specific to the case being tried. They serve as a guide to assist the jurors in understanding the legal and factual issues and in reaching a verdict.

Find Jury Instructions

Find instructions using these databases. Access is restricted and requires individual username and password.


Bloomberg Law - Choose Litigation → Dockets Tab → Litigation Resources → Other Court Materials → Federal and State Jury Instructions

 

LexisAdvance - Choose Browse → Sources by Category → Jury Instructions

 

Westlaw - Choose All Content → Secondary Sources → Jury Instructions

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Internet/Social Media

The growth and prolific presence of social media has impacted the justice system and specifically the fundamental right to an impartial jury.  Jurors accessing the Internet and social media during trials has become a significant concern as verdicts have come under challenge and cases appealed. In addition, as a generation of potential jurors who have always accessed the Internet and who use social media consistently enter the courtroom, the importance of revising jury instructions to address juror conduct are all the more important. The need to expand and modernize instructions to address social media use has been felt by courts in jurisdictions across the country.  In response, jury instructions are being reworked to include social media use. The Federal Evidence Review's Federal Jury Instructions Resource page includes the section "Juror Use Of Electronic Social Media".

The Proposed Model Jury Instructions: The Use of Electronic Technology to Conduct Research or to Communicate about a Case (June 2012) prepared by the Judicial Conference Committee on Court Administration and Case Management, addresses juror behavior regarding the Internet and other electronic tools:

"You as jurors, must decide this case based solely on the evidence presented here…This means that during the trial you must not conduct any independent research about this case…you should not consult dictionaries or reference materials, search the Internet, websites, blogs, or use any other electronic tools to obtain information about this case...You may not communicate with anyone about the case on your cell phone, through email, Blackberry, iPhone, text messaging, or on Twitter, through any blog or website, including Facebook, Google+, My Space, LinkedIn or YouTube. You may not use any similar technology of social media…"

Much has been written about the issue of Internet/social media use by jurors.  Included in the list below are a selected sample of articles found online.  Additionally, search engines such as Google and databases such as HeinOnline (Access is restricted to members of the Marquette Community) and Westlaw (Westlaw access is restricted to faculty and students of Marquette University Law School through individual usernames and passwords) can be searched for more information on this topic.