The explosion of Web 2.0 technology has revolutionized the world. Given the role Twitter played in the Iranian election fallout, perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised to hear about a juror twittering in court or a witness texting on the stand. Some might even think it pedestrian to lament that trials are being waylaid by interactive technology in courtrooms. Yet this phenomenon has rivaled swine flu mania among the legal bar with good reason. The use of electronic devices like cell phones and BlackBerrys by jurors and witnesses, in a manner that disrupts and taints court proceedings to the level that presiding judges are forced to declare a mistrial, is serious injustice indeed.
A particularly egregious incident in Florida state court, involving a witness text-messaging on the stand while the judge and the attorneys were engaged in a sidebar conference, exemplifies the problem. Judge Scott Silverman declared a civil mistrial after he learned the texting was with another company executive at counsel table. When defense counsel reported the incident, the judge questioned the witness, who admitted the texts were about his testimony.
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