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What happens when a juror starts a blog detailing his experience serving on a jury?
In the case of Bruce Slutsky, nothing. That's not to say that the blogging juror's actions serve as a fantastic example of modern jury conduct. But apparently Slutsky did a good enough job of walking the line between talking about his experience, without talking about the case. Slutsky started the blog www.bruceslutsky.com after he was called for jury duty in a civil case in New York State Supreme Court in Queens.
Professor John Clark of the University of Texas disagrees that Slutsky's blog was permissible--he believes Slutsky crossed the line. He discovered Slutsky's blog while surfing the internet and believed that the blog violated the requirements of jury duty.
However, after an investigation, the judge found that Slutsky did not violate his duties because he merely documented his experience without discussing the facts and details of the case. "I didn't do anything wrong," said Slutsky, The New York Times reports. "I didn't blog about the actual case, just about the jury process. I specifically said in my blog that I'm not allowed to talk about the case."
However, Professor Clark was particularly troubled by an Oct. 6 post regarding the plaintiff's taking the stand for the second day, which stated, "It was really annoying when the witness got the same question over and over ... [this] is not relevant to the jury's ultimate decision of liability." To Clark, this was clearly a commentary on the case, and one which attorneys could potentially use to change their strategy.
Nevertheless, Bruce Slutsky was in the clear because Justice Augustus C. Agate, who presided over the case found that Slutsky "followed the instructions of the court."
That's not to say that it would be wise for you to start a blog the next time you are called for jury duty. First of all, it's hard to say how another judge in another court in another state would rule on a blogging juror, even with the same facts. Second, it is very difficult to make sure that you know where to draw the line (in part because the line has never been clearly articulated). Third, if you blog about jury duty and find that you accidentally cross the line, you will be in some serious hot water with the court. Jury duty is already hard enough. If you're even thinking about writing about your jury service, tread extremely carefully.