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Abstract

This article examines the reform efforts employed by common law countries to address internet-related juror misconduct, which generally arises when jurors use technology to improperly research or discuss a case. The three specific areas of reform are (1) punishment, (2) oversight, and (3) education. The first measure can take various forms ranging from fines to public embarrassment to incarceration. The common theme with all punishments is that once imposed, they make citizens less inclined to want to serve as jurors. Therefore, penalties should be a last resort in preventing juror misconduct.

The second reform measure is oversight, which occurs in one of two ways. Under the first method, oversight is conducted by attorneys and court officials. Under the second method, oversight is conducted by the jurors themselves through self-policing. The third reform measure involves education, which occurs both inside and outside of the courtroom. When done outside of the courtroom the education primarily occurs in the school system. Education inside the courtroom involves juror questions, instructions, and oaths.

The purpose of this article is to examine the various ways common law countries have used different types of punishment, oversight, and education to help stem the tide of internet-related juror misconduct. To date, no one country has completely solved this multi-faceted problem. However, this is not to say that various countries cannot learn and adopt practices from each other. For example, to determine the effectiveness or deterrence value of imposing tougher penalties on jurors, one might study Britain, which has taken a hard line on juror misconduct. Similarly, those jurisdictions that believe that jury instructions are the best way to solve juror misconduct should review the in-depth jury instructions employed by the United States.

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