[Excerpt] “The Constitution guarantees criminal defendants the right to a fair trial before an impartial jury and the right to confront the evidence against them. When a juror improperly accesses the Internet during a criminal trial, the defendant is denied these constitutional rights. The problem of outside information entering the courtroom is as old as our judicial system. As early as 1907, Justice Holmes observed that, “The theory of our [criminal justice] system is that the conclusions to be reached in a case will be induced only by evidence and argument in open court, and not by any outside influence, whether of private talk or public print.” Yet in recent years, the issue of juror misconduct has been brought to the forefront by striking examples of jurors seeking information on the Internet, outside of the evidence presented in court.
This Note examines the prevalence of Internet-related juror misconduct in the New Hampshire Superior Court and the efforts of Superior Court judges to detect and prevent such misconduct. I conducted a survey of New Hampshire Superior Court judges regarding their experience with juror Internet misconduct and solicited their feedback about a sample jury instruction. I have incorporated their feedback into a proposed set of jury instructions specifically targeted at reducing juror Internet misconduct.”
Brooke Lovett Shilo, Juror Internet Misconduct: A Survey of New Hampshire Superior Court Judges, 12 U.N.H. L. REV. 245 (2014), available at http://scholars.unh.edu/unh_lr/vol12/iss2/6