Welcome back and thanks for joining us again here at The Kronzek Firm. In our previous article on juror misconduct we talked about consulting company DOAR‘s revolutionary new study into juror misconduct, and what jurors had anonymously admitted to doing during trials. This included all manner of court rule violations like researching information online, discussing the details with other jurors, and talking to friends and family about the case.
While these results are staggering in their scope, dwarfing any previous data collected on the subject, they also raise the issue of how we should proceed now. When you think about it, the fact that more than half of the jurors out there admit (anonymously) to violating the judge’s instructions to the jury when it comes of researching, sharing and discussion information about the trial they are involved in, the implications are massive. The impact on how attorneys handle cases moving forward is significant, and it should also be taken into consideration by the court itself for future trials.
According to the researchers at DOAR, a legal consulting firm, these results line up with what they already suspected – the fact that jurors are regularly violating the court’s instructions to them, even when they’re specifically instructed by a judge not to. So the question now, is how does one prevent this? Although DOAR doesn’t claim to have all of the answers, they do ask some very intelligent questions aimed at getting the legal community thinking.
One of the points they make is about demographics. The fact that research now shows that college educated non-white males are the most likely to engage in juror misconduct. However, in order to properly address the issue, one must understand why it’s happening. Why are these particular people doing so much internet research about the trials they are viewing. The answer is lack of understanding.
Jurors claim that the primary reason they do online research is to have a better understanding about the laws.
Many jurors said that they didn’t understand the law as it was explained to them in court, and so they felt compelled to go online and find more and better information. With that in mind, are there things the court could do differently to reduce this issue in future? One suggestion made by DOAR is that the court do a better job of explaining the law as it pertains to the case in question, right at the beginning.
According to the researchers, “When jurors are not given instructions on the law or definitions of the elements of the alleged crimes until the very end of the trial, it is no wonder they feel as though they need to go elsewhere to investigate for themselves.”
Another point they make is that attorneys need to be aware of this fact, and take it into account when preparing for a trial. Specifically, they advise attorneys to consider the ways in which online information could impact their trial, and then adjust their strategy accordingly. By assuming right from the get-go that jurors will be accessing the internet for additional info on the case, an attorney can make adjustments to their presentation and angle.
All in all, this is a very interesting subject that has some very important implications for attorneys, defendants, judges and everyone else involved in our Michigan legal system. If you consider the facts for a few moments you will realize that the ramifications of such rampant juror misconduct probably has ramifications for everyone everywhere. We are all impacted by the way our society’s legal system operates, and all of us are, directly or indirectly, impacted by the people who are incarcerated based solely on the decision of a jury. Or set free.
We hope this two-part series has given you something to think about in the future, whether or not you ever serve on a jury. However, we want to remind all of our readers that selecting a good jury and preparing a case for trial so that the defendant achieves the best possible outcome are all hallmarks of an excellent defense attorney. Which is what we have at The Kronzek Firm – many excellent defense attorneys with long track records of winning trials and fighting aggressively for our clients. We can be reached at 866 766 5245. Call us the moment you need legal help in Michigan. We are here to help resolve your problem.