Juror becomes Facebook friends with defendent during trial and is dismissed from the case

There are times to friend people on Facebook and times not to. One of the times to refrain should include when you are on a jury and you want to be Facebook friends with the defendant:

Jurors and defendants are not meant to be friends — even if it’s just Facebook friends.

Four charges of contempt of court probably drilled this point home for 22-year-old Jonathan Hudson of Arlington, Texas. While on jury duty, Hudson sent a Facebook friend request to the female defendant in the case.

He was dismissed from the proceedings following the friend request, as well as for posting case information on his profile. Afterwards, he contacted the defendant through a Facebook message to apologize…

His lawyer told the paper the mistake was “a reflection of the times.”

I’m sure someone could develop a defense for this: being Facebook friends isn’t the same kind of friendship that might compromise a decision in a court case. But that then gets into the interesting area of what exactly it means to be a friend on Facebook.

If this is a “reflection of the times,” it suggests people have difficulty knowing when using newer technologies, like Facebook or texting, is appropriate. The courtroom is probably one of the more conservative institutions where it takes some time to change behavior norms. Would Facebook ever be incorporated into courtroom and trial behavior? What if jurors had electronic devices that they could use to interact with each other as they are hearing cases?

Blagojevich wins round 1

While sitting in the Atlanta airport waiting to return to Chicago, I saw the big news of today live on CNN: Rod Blagojevich wins round 1 as he is convicted on only 1 of 24 counts brought against him by the federal government.


The jurors started speaking tonight. According to the foreman:

But in the end, he said, the “lack of a smoking gun” was too much of a hurdle for jurors to reach more than the one unanimous decision.

And the charge of trying to selling the Senate seat might have been held up by one juror:

[A young juror] said a female juror who was the lone holdout on convicting Blagojevich of attempting to sell the Senate seat “wanted clear-cut evidence, and not everything was clear-cut.”

The court proceedings will continue.

And what does this mean for the State of Illinois, politics, and U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald?