Patterico's Pontifications

3/14/2009

Juror Discusses $12 Million Verdict on Twitter

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 1:07 am

Via Jules Crittenden comes an amusing link to an AP story titled Appeal says juror sent ‘tweets’ during $12.6M case.

What kind of “tweets” are we talking about? This kind:

So, Johnathan, what did you do today?” Oh, nothing really. I just gave away TWELVE MILLION DOLLARS of somebody else’s money!

Still, it sounds more scandalous than it really is:

A building materials company and its owner have appealed a $12.6 million verdict against them, alleging that a juror was posting related messages on Twitter.com while hearing the case.

The motion filed Thursday seeking a new trial claims the juror sent eight messages — or “tweets” — to the micro-blogging Web site via his cellular phone. One read in part: “oh and nobody buy Stoam. Its bad mojo and they’ll probably cease to Exist, now that their wallet is 12m lighter.” . . . The motion filed by the lawyer for Russell Wright and his company, Stoam Holdings, alleges the juror researched the case and communicated with others outside the jury.

A closer look appears to reveal an appeal filed out of desperation by a company stretching for any way to overturn the verdict. This story has more details:

He’d researched being a juror online the night before. Not the specific case, but how to be a juror — he wanted to know what he could bring, he said.

He sent via message, “trying to learn about Jury duty for tomorrow, but all searches lead me to Suggestions for getting out of it, instead of rocking it.”

He sent a message when he arrived that morning just before 9 a.m.

“I guess Im early. Two Angry Men just won’t do.”

The appeal says these lines show he researched the case and came as a self-described “Angry Man.” Gimme a break. He was researching being a jury in the first quote, and making a play on words in the second quote.

Lawyers.

Still, that message — so flippant about the $12 million award. Doesn’t really inspire confidence, does it?

P.S. If you want to follow my Twitter feed, it’s here. But I won’t be sending messages from any jury trials . . .

14 Responses to “Juror Discusses $12 Million Verdict on Twitter”

  1. The first comment makes sense, actually he’s to be commended. I’ve often reminded people who complain about jury duty that serving is part of their duty. I’ve also asked them if they were on trial would they not want someone like themselves on the jury. They usually get the point.

    The second comment on the verdict is just bad form. Very bad form. A good mother should have taught him that.

    Vivian Louise (c0f830)

  2. Is it “normal” practice for attornys/lawyers to be inexplicitly ambiguous? Or does the art of blogging leave out just enough specifics to make the story interesting? And, can I twitter with my commodore 64? I’m beginning to understand what inspired Reginald Rose to write Twelve Angry Men. Lawyers indeed. :)

    Rovin (a5d8b7)

  3. […] Juror twitters during $12 million civil case (” I just gave away TWELVE MILLION DOLLARS of somebody else’s […]

    Saturday morning cartoons | And Still I Persist (13e666)

  4. But I won’t be sending messages from any jury trials . . .

    How long before others do, though?

    Kevin Murphy (0b2493)

  5. A lawyer was disbarred after jury duty recently. Signing an affidavit saying you changed your vote in order to get back to your busy law practice is an order of magnitude more stupid than sending a twitter or two.

    TomHynes (332f2c)

  6. I would think that the success or failure of the appeal hinges on whether or not this juror communicated with others outside the court house during the trial and/or deliberations about the case. If he did, then the verdict and award would seem to be tainted.

    AD - RtR/OS (80cdf5)

  7. Reply to TomHynes comment: I read the link you provided. Thanks. I’m wondering, if that counsel knew that the trial was to last for 2-3 weeks, [and as most trial lawyers know, that estimate is probably low for a medical malpractice case] why didn’t he just tell the court in the first place during voir dire that his practice was too damn busy for him to be out of the office for that long and that he and his clients would suffer an undue hardship by his inattention to his case load? Moreover, he could have added that this worry about being away would cause him to not be able to concentrate on the presentation of the evidence during the trial. Oh, oh, oh that’s right. He had another discipline action pending against him. That probably is why he forgot to mention it. Silly me.

    Mike Harlin (95b670)

  8. Rules can be squishy things, but humans even more so. All you can do is take the toys out of their playful hands during these periods requiring their complete attention…except the underlying force here is their equally squishy minds which tend to wander hither and yon in moments of droning minutiae which are prone to occur in courtrooms, classrooms, and comments. This comment being a glaring example of prone to drone. I believe you have a tweet coming in…

    allan (43d42f)

  9. Whatever happened to just taking that antiquated object known as a book? Common sense and all that… I have jury duty in two weeks. A third of the way through Shogun, it should do. This juror was simply dumb.

    Dana (137151)

  10. Having read the story, it appears that the juror did nothing wrong, and apparently was being flippant right AFTER the trial. Or, perhaps, when he said

    “I just gave away TWELVE MILLION DOLLARS of somebody else’s money”

    he was giving an unintentional compliment to the judicial system. That is, perhaps the juror, left merely to his own discretion, might have decided differently. However, when faced with the evidence and the rules (i.e., the jury instructions) about how to weigh the evidence and what conclusions to make UNDER THE LAW, he voted the way he did. Which is good, because it is nice to have some predictability under the law.

    Ira (28a423)

  11. It is always sooooooo much easier to give away somebody else’s money, a fundamental flaw with the civil law system.

    JD (2ed087)

  12. I’ve been called over three times for jury duty downtown, and have been dismissed by defense counsel continuously, due to the fact that every one is a personal injury trial, and I’m honest about admitting my preference for tort reform action in Illinois. So while the proscution loves me, the defense issues a challenge immediately. I also believe that defense counsel in many cases try mightily to get college – educated jurors off their personal injury cases; something about hearing “emotional costs” usually sends many of us off the rails immediately.

    Dmac (49b16c)

  13. This kind of thing is why I’m for the complete abolition of punitive damages–let the legislatures increase criminal fines if they want to hit criminal wrongdoers in the wallet. I see no social utility in letting jurors give away other people’s money other than to compensate plaintiffs for their provable losses and to cover reasonable attorney’s fees.

    M. Scott Eiland (5ccff0)

  14. […] Patterico has the backstory on this Twitter: “So, Johnathan, what did you do today?” Oh, nothing really. I just gave away TWELVE MILLION DOLLARS of somebody else’s money! […]

    Twitter fail | Les Jones (d2723c)


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