State Supreme Court Justice Jean Toal has issued an order concerning jurors’ use of personal electronic communication devices. According to the order, jurors are forbidden to use a computer including laptops, cell phones, or other electronic communication devices while in attendance at trial or during deliberations. Toal says that the dramatic increase in the use of personal communication devices is the reason she is issuing the order. Director of Court Administration for the State Judicial Department Rosalyn Frierson says the order also forbids jurors to use the devices to research information pertaining to the case they’re involved with.
“It does not change the prohibition of jurors having communication devices when they are on jury duty. It simply explains that they are not to use those kinds of devices for any type of independent research related to a case.”
Frierson says that Chief Justice Toal’s order is an extension of the same charge that is given to jurors to not discuss the case with others, including other jurors except as otherwise authorized by the court and not to read news items or listen to or view news reports pertaining to the case.
Frierson says while she has not taken a scientific poll of courtrooms around the state concerning jurors and their use of cell phones and other communication devices, it does seem that people all over are habitually using them now.
“I really can’t say because I’m not in the courtrooms across the state, but I would believe that there is an increase use because everybody has some type of electronic device these days.”