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Florida Judges Further Restrict Jury Access to Electronic Devices

The court system has been completely revolutionized by burgeoning technology. With the use of new forensic methods, a defendant’s innocence or guilt can be more readily established; with new technology, new evidentiary standards may be used to show whether or not the defendant is responsible for the crime; and with new technology, props and methods used by defense attorneys and prosecutors to help jurors with different types of learning styles are becoming readily accessible.

However, with the boom of technology comes the drawbacks as well. Technology has been finding ways to inhibit the judicial process, more specifically when it comes to the role of a juror. Justices and judges, however, are taking a stand on the types of electronic devices that may be used and the extent in which technology may be utilized during the preparation and duration of criminal proceedings.

New Regulations Against Jury Photographs and Recordings During Proceedings

Most recently, judges in Florida courts have created rulings on the extent in which jurors may use technology throughout the legal proceedings. One of the new rulings made recently stipulated that cell phones, computers, tablets, and other electronic devices may not be used to take photographs, video or audio recordings. This ruling was made in addition to the already stipulated regulations stating that jurors’ use of electronic devices to conduct their own research, provide opinions and information about the proceedings via social media, or even posting about the proceedings in their own blog, are just a few of the uses that are limited.

The Purpose of Electronic Device Restrictions

The purpose of these imposed restrictions is not to throw into chaos the daily routines of the jurors, but to ensure that they are not distracted from the proceedings themselves and take into consideration every piece of information through their first-hand senses. By taking photographs throughout the proceeding, the juror is first missing the presentation by taking the photograph, but also the photograph might distort the perspective of the evidence and/or proceeding itself.

Jurors Should Not be “Amateur Detectives”

Most importantly, the stipulations were originally put into place restricting the use of electronic devices because of the investigative function that access to the internet may provide. Permitting the juror to act as an amateur detective inhibits the judicial system as they may find out about past arrests or convictions that may have otherwise been precluded by the judge due to its prejudicial effect. Also, there may be misconduct that the defendant has done that is not illegal but the juror may want to punish the defendant for this misconduct. For example, a little investigation may show that the defendant was unfaithful to his wife, and the juror might have just been cheated on. Overall, any information about the defendant, whether positive or negative, would have a direct or indirect affect on a juror’s perspective of the proceedings.

The Negatives of these New Stipulations

But many believe it’s unfair to restrict the use of these devices for a variety of reasons. First and foremost, jury duty infringes on everyday life, whether one views it as his/her civic duty or believes it’s a waste of time. By restricting the use of a device that he or she uses a part of his/her daily routine, there may be resentment and contempt for the court, especially if the case lasts longer than a couple days. Also, with the advent of electronic devices, the use of these devices may be how people understand information that is provided for them. No longer are we solely visual or auditory learners; we have a new medium and platform for learning.

Criminal Defense Attorney in Fort Lauderdale

Overall, ensuring a defendant’s right to an undistracted jury of his/her peers that are impartial is a more significant concern than jurors having unlimited access to their electronic devices; restricting access is safeguard by which jurors are not losing their rights and more importantly, the defendant is not losing his or her rights. Having an experienced criminal defense attorney like Kevin J. Kulik is a protected right for defendants. Contact the Law Offices of Kevin J. Kulik today for a free and confidential consultation.

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