Mar 10, 2011

Model -- and Modern -- Jury Instructions for the Digital Age

Thaddeus Hoffmeister, an Assistant Professor at the University of Dayton School of Law, has posted a set of "Model Jury Instructions for the Digital Age" on his blog on jury issues.

Professor Hoffmeister was kind enough to show me the instructions in draft form, and to incorporate my suggestions in the "Introduction" section of his model rules.

As I've written before, jury instructions in many states have not kept up with new technology, and do not specifically address jurors' use of social media and the Internet.

If the courts need jurors to restrain themselves from online activity, they need to do more than "just say no": they also have to do a good job of explaining why.  Model instructions like Professor Hoffmeister's, if they are adopted and used by the courts, are a good first step.


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