Trial-Social Media Instructions

A federal Judiciary committee has issued a new set of model jury instructions (pdf) that federal judges may use to deter jurors from using social media to research or communicate about cases.

The new instructions, which update and expand on a similar version issued in 2012, were sent to federal judges on Sept. 1.

The new model instructions caution jurors about the many ways social media can undermine a jury’s ability to deliver an impartial verdict. The instructions suggest that reminders about social media restrictions be given throughout the trial, instead of only at its beginning and end, as was recommended in the 2012 version.

“We believe the new language should more effectively guard potential and serving jurors against improper influence,” said Judge Audrey G. Fleissig, chair of the Committee on Court Administration and Case Management.

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