Comes the new year, and lots of law firms, pundits, reporters and bloggers like to write about the new laws coming into effect the first of the year. And CBL may get around to that. But here's our favorite: Last August, as reported by the SF Chronicle, the California legislature passed, and Governor Brown signed, AB 141, designed to prevent jurors from blogging, tweeting, or facebook posting about their jury service in progress or from conducting internet research.
California law has long held that before a jury separates, the trial judge must give jurors an "admonishment," telling them they are not to conduct any research, go to the scene of the relevant events, communicate with anyone about the case or otherwise learn anything about the case anywhere other than the courtroom while court is in session. They are also told not to form or express any opinions about the case before it is given them for decision. (And of course, we all know jurors faithfully follow this admonition and neither form nor express opinions until deliberations begin. Right.)
The new additions to California's Code of Civil Procedure and Penal Code provide that the court's admonition must include a clear explanation "that the prohibition on research, dissemination of information, and conversation applies to all forms of electronic and wireless communication." The bailiff or court attendant in charge of the jury is required to enforce the ban (how? by taking away electronic devices? I doubt that.) And willful violation is contempt of court, which is a misdemeanor.
So, happy new year. Now, put down the device. Put down the device.