When writer Eve Bradshaw took to the jury box in 2009, she turned her personal blog into a jury duty blog. Six entries and a $4.75 million verdict later, she found herself at the center of a controversy.
She violated a court order when she publicly spoke about the trial. Were her blog posts enough to overturn the verdict? And did they describe improper jury deliberations?
An Illinois appellate court doesn't think so.
Juror conduct will generally only impact a verdict if it is shown to be biased. In Illinois, this means providing proof that jurors were influenced by extraneous evidence, or that they failed to keep an open mind.
Eve Bradshaw's jury duty blog posts didn't mention extraneous information. They also described an incident during which a jury member was reminded not to make a decision before hearing the entirety of the evidence.
Since the posts didn't provide evidence of a prejudiced jury, the verdict was upheld.
This doesn't mean that you should go ahead and keep a jury duty blog the next time you fulfill your civic duty. Eve Bradshaw was a lucky woman.
It's commonplace for a judge to instruct jury members to refrain from speaking about the case. This includes with one another. To do otherwise is to violate a court order.
Those who violate court orders can be held in contempt of court, which can mean a hefty fine. Such behavior can also lead to overturned verdicts and mistrials. In some cases, it can lead to criminal charges.
You may not be as lucky as Eve Bradshaw if you decide to keep a real-time jury duty blog. So keep your insights to yourself.