A misbehaving juror in Florida has received the worst sentence in the world: He'll have to report for more jury duty.
Vishnu P. Singh was selected as a juror in a rape and first-degree murder trial in October.
However, curiosity got the better of Singh, and he performed independent research of the murder on the Internet, reports the Tampa Bay Times. A fellow juror turned him in.
If you didn't know, this is a definite no-no. Jury members cannot perform independent research on a case. So when Singh's action came to light, Hillsborough Circuit Judge William Fuente came down hard.
Jury members are expected to base their decision on what is presented during the trial and to make an independent judgment. The problem when jurors start reading press clippings and other news reports on the Internet is that they may start getting biased and incorrect information. As a result, their decision-making may be tainted, which could affect the outcome of the trial.
The judge threw Singh out of the courtroom in October, but the bad juror was back in court Friday to learn his fate. He begged the judge's forgiveness. Singh said that curiosity got the better of him, and Judge Fuente let him off the hook. Sort of.
Instead of sentencing the engineer to jail, the judge ordered that Singh would receive a summons for jury duty one week per month for the next three months, the Times reports. If Singh fails to perform his jury duty, he'll instead go to jail for five days.
It should be noted that Judge Fuente has had his fair share of frustrating jury members in the past. Last summer, the judge had to stop a trial and dismiss 80 prospective jurors because they were caught gossiping over another high-profile murder case. Similar to the October case, the defendant in last summer's case also faced the death penalty.
- Prospective juror who Googled murder defendant gets unusual sentence (ABA Journal)
- 9-Year-Old Gets Jury Duty Summons: 'What's a Jury Duty?' (FindLaw's Legal Grounds)
- Mr. T Reports for Jury Duty, Gets Passed Over by Judge (FindLaw's Legal Grounds)
- New Instructions Discourage Jurors' Social Media Use (FindLaw's U.S. Third Circuit Blog)