Earlier this week, we wrote about how a lawyer’s absurd Facebook rant caused a convicted sexual predator to get a new hearing about whether or not he was required to register as a sex offender. Naturally, this isn’t the first time that Social Media has reeked havoc on our legal system, and it most certainly will not be the last. Here are five depressing examples of times when mistrials were declared because of Social Media.
1) Guilty or not guilty, Facebook friends? In 2008, a female juror in Lancashire, England, couldn’t decide if the defendant was guilty or not. So, she posted testimony on Facebook and asked her friends for their input, saying she’d make her decision based on their votes. She was dismissed from the jury.
2) Pictures of the jury: In a Topeka, Kansas murder trial, a reporter covering the case was live tweeting the trial. The reporter tweeted a picture of the courtroom that included pictures of jury members. This was a violation of Kansas Supreme Court rules, and a mistrial was declared.
3) Pics of your client’s underwear: This one just absolutely blows me away. In 2010, Fermin Recalde was accused of killing his girlfriend. During the trial, Recalde’s family brought Recalde a change of clothing that included a leopard-print underwear. Recalde’s world-class attorney, Anya Cintron Stern, took a picture of the underwear and posted it on her Facebook, with a sarcastic caption about whether or not it was appropriate for a trial. A mistrial was declared and Stern was fired.
4) I don’t like the defendant; let me FB about it: In New Brunswick, Canada, Fred Prosser was being tried for murder. One of the juror’s took to an anti-Prosser Facebook group to attack Prosser. The news was brought to the Judge’s attention, and the judge declared an immediate mistrial.