Car injury lawyers in New Jersey bring motor vehicle injury cases to trial. A personal injury trial typically takes place before a judge and roughly six jurors. (Juries of twelve generally only sit on criminal cases.)
Today, most people, before they make an important decision, perform some investigation on the Internet or elsewhere. Are jurors hearing a car accident trial allowed to do likewise?
Surprisingly, the answer is no.
For example, while a case is pending, jurors must not visit the scene of the accident. Why not? Well, for one thing, that area may have changed since the time of the accident.
Jurors Must Not Investigate.
Further, while a case is pending, jurors must not conduct any research or make any investigations on their own about the case. Jurors are forbidden from conducting any investigation or research whatsoever. The courts believe that is not the jurors’ job. Rather, courts hold that the jurors’ job is to decide car accident cases based solely upon the evidence presented to all of them in the courtroom by car injury lawyers and defense counsel.
Accordingly, jurors must not investigate, research, review or seek out information about the issues in the case. Either specifically or generally. This rule applies to any research about the parties, the attorneys, the witnesses, or court personnel. It applies to traditional formats such as newspapers, books, advertisements, television, radio broadcasts, magazines, or through any research or inquiry on the Internet, or through the use of any computer, phone, text device, smartphone, tablet or any other electronic device.
Jurors Must Not Communicate
Jurors must also not attempt to communicate with others about the case. Or even about general subject matters raised during this case. They mustn’t communicate either personally or through computers, cell phones, text messaging, instant messaging, blogs, or any other form of social media or electronic communication. This includes Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or the like.
Jurors must not go on the Internet, participate in, or review any websites, Internet chat rooms or blogs. They must not seek out photographs, documents, or information of any kind that may in any way relate to the case. Jurors must not even lookup in a dictionary or online a definition of a word or legal phrase they hear at trial that they do not understand. Whether from a witness, an attorney, or the judge.
Simply put, Courts feel that it is the job of the Judge to ensure that jurors are provided with all of the evidence that jurors are permitted to have in order to decide a case.
Why else do judges impose these extreme restrictions? The explanation lies in the New Jersey Model Civil Jury Rules. Those rules are where the prohibitions set forth above come from.
In my next post, I will provide the explanation.