When jurors are chosen to sit on a trial jury, they are required to take the position seriously. The responsibility that is inherent to the position of a juror in a trial is heady to say the least. That is especially true when the person is called to put their lives on hold while they sit for weeks on a highly publicized trial jury. A New York Criminal Lawyer said that it can be almost impossible for anyone to shut themselves off from any information that relates to a trial that is in the news and on the television and radio every time that they turn one on. It is incumbent upon the court to ensure that the juror is aware of their responsibility and to take action against those jurors who violate the standards that are set.
Because the court realizes that it is sometimes impossible to prevent a juror from being exposed to some type of information about a case that is highly publicized, it is often at the discretion of the court to determine if that juror can put aside the information that they have been exposed to outside of the courtroom in order to make a decision on the case based solely on the information that is presented in the court. In most cases, a court simply asks the juror and accepts the juror’s response. However, there are times when that is not possible, for instance it may not be possible if the juror has been discovered to have discussed the case outside of the jury room with an uninvolved acquaintance. In most cases, when a juror is found to have participated in that type of misconduct, they will be dismissed from the jury and an alternate will take their place.
In one case that was a highly publicized rape and robbery case from 1973, the juror went to dinner with some friends while she was sitting on the jury. While at dinner, they were joined by some acquaintances of another one of her friends. In this group was a defense attorney. Over dinner, the woman told her tablemates that she was on the jury and that she had been instructed not to discuss the case. She stated that she had made up her mind about the man’s guilt, but that she would listen to the viewpoints of the other jurors before putting in her vote. Later in the day, she found out that the woman was a defense attorney and pointed asked her if she was familiar with the accuracy of DNA evidence as well as a few other questions. She also stated that she had looked on the computer to find out what the defense attorney’s credentials were. All of these statements are violations of the code of conduct for jurors. The defense attorney whom the woman had spoken to worked for the legal aid society.