Tweeting could cost jurors $1,500 under a new California bill

I'm the kind of person that gets on Facebook a few times a day, just to check up on the lives of my friends and family that I don't get to see very often. However, some for some people, social media is a deeply integrated part of their life, that they can't seem to go without for more than a short period of time. If you're one of those people, and you happen to get selected for jury duty, then you might find yourself having to pay a hefty fine.

A new piece of proposed legislation in California is aimed to stop jurors from using social media, and to prevent them from doing independent research on their case. Now, you might think that there is already a way to prevent this in place. It's true, but in order for the judge to take action on a juror, they must hold them in contempt of the court. On TV, it's just a matter of yelling "I'm holding you in contempt!" however, in a real courtroom, there is a lot of messy paperwork and other legal steps in order to do it.

Under this new proposal, should a juror be caught on their phone looking up information relevant to the case, or tweeting at friends, the judge will be able to issue a citation, much the same way a traffic ticket is issued. The fine for such an offense would be up to $1,500.

You might wonder why it's so important to make it easier to crack down on social media use during a case. The truth is that the simple act of a juror tweeting, or researching, can lead to a mistrial. And mistrials cost a lot of time and money for everyone involved, including taxpayers. Currently, the proposal is sitting with the state Assembly. It still has a couple more steps before it will become a law. For more on the process, see School House Rock.

VIA: Ars