DETROIT -- A Warren, Mich., juror was fined $250 and ordered to write a five-page essay on the Sixth Amendment after a Macomb County judge found her in contempt of court for declaring a defendant guilty on Facebook before the trial ended.
Hadley Jons , 20, has to pay the fine and write the essay on a defendant's right to a jury trial by Oct. 1, Circuit Judge Diane Druzinski ordered Thursday. If Jons complies, the civil contempt will be purged.
Jons told the judge she was "very sorry." She did not comment after the hearing.
"I think it's an appropriate resolution," said her attorney, John C. Giancotti.
The case has some in the legal world thinking that judges, in general, need to specify social media sites to jurors when giving jury instructions in this ever-changing tech world.
"(Jurors) need to be told so clearly, so adamantly so it hits home and creates a picture. Maybe the penalty that occurred in this case and the public exposure will be helpful," said Bay County Circuit Judge Bill Caprathe, chairman of the State Bar of Michigan's criminal jury instruction committee.
Saleema Goodman Sheikh, who represented the defendant in the resisting arrest trial in which Jons was a juror, said that she is satisfied with Druzinski's decision, but "would have liked to have seen some jail time."
Before the prosecution finished its case last month, Jons wrote on her Facebook page that it was "gonna be fun to tell the defendant they're GUILTY." Goodman Sheikh's 17-year-old son, Jaxon Goodman, who is clerking for his mother, discovered the post during a court break. Druzinski had Jons removed.
Goodman Sheikh said she hopes the Jons' case will "make a difference to other jurors." Although she said that Druzinski specifically mentioned Facebook, MySpace and Google to the jury, Goodman Sheikh agrees that jury instructions in general may have to explicitly mention social media sites.
"This is the beginning of a very big problem," she said.
But Caprathe said the problem isn't just in Michigan. It's happening throughout the country and the world, he said.
The Michigan Supreme Court adopted a rule that took effect in 2009 that states courts are to instruct jurors not to discuss the case or read or listen to news reports about the case.
Jurors also are not to use computers, cell phones or other electronic devices with communication capabilities at the trial or in deliberations or to use these devices to "obtain or disclose information about the case when they are not in court." That includes information about witnesses or attorneys, news accounts, testimony or information they might think would be helpful in deciding the case.
Although the court rule and similar civil and criminal jury instructions appear clear, Caprathe said that he thinks judges will have to mention social media sites, even giving some examples, when they give jury instructions.