Jury instruction clarifies rules

Published 10:34 am Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Everyone knows that citizens serving as jurors in our legal system cannot talk about a case. And just in case there was any confusion, it will now be clarified that they cannot chat, text, Tweet, or anything else about it.

Rapidly evolving technology like the iPhone and other smart phones have combined with social networking sites like Twitter, Facebook and YouTube to create more opportunity for jurors to gather and share information about a case.

The Ohio State Bar Association adopted optional instructions last month that warn jurors against using this technology in ways that would violate the standards required to help ensure that everyone gets a fair and balanced trial.

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Although many may say that this would fall into the category of too obvious to need a rule, the truth is that unless it is clearly outlined there will be potential confusion or abuse.

We applaud this change and hope to see it embraced across Ohio and here in Lawrence County.

Too often, the legal system is perceived to be behind the times or slow to adapt to changes in our culture or society.

This is a perfect example of a change that was needed, but one that will take time to be implemented fully.

Hopefully, judges will take the time to explain to jurors why it is important because having an impartial jury of our peers is a fundamental right afforded to U.S. citizens.

Each and every American should be presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law, not the court of cyberspace.