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Electronic Communication In The Courtroom

The legal system as a rule is slow in adapting technology. For instance In the federal courts,e filing, that is, the filing of pleadings and other legal documents on line,  is mandatory; but of the local counties, only Philadelphia mandated e filing in January 2009. In most other counties you can check dockets, but  that’s about it.

How about in jury trials- can or should jurors be able to text or tweet about the goings on in the courtroom? No way. Itjeopardizes the reliability of the ultimate verdict.Jurors going home at night and searching Google for information about the case they they are sitting on? It just does not work that way. Allowing jurors to do that would be equivalent to throwing the rules of evidence out the window.

And if you text in court and you are a participant in the proceedings? Forget about it. You could find yourself in jail. That’s what happened to Susan Henwood, mother of four, in April 2009. A Utah judge found her in contempt of court for texting her husband, who was not in the courtroom at the time, ” they’re coming for the Polaris Ranger”, a pick up truck owned by the Henmans which was part of a collection dispute. She spent two days in jail for warning her husband in advance to move the pick up so it could not be scooped up in the collection case.

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