Announcer: The following segment is sponsored by Martin, Harding & Mazzotti.
Interviewer: A defendant convicted of market manipulation is appealing his guilty verdict claiming juror misconduct may have wrongfully led to his conviction. The former J.P. Morgan trader claims that one juror was pressured into entering a guilty verdict and that another had discussed his role and made disparaging remarks about the case on his podcast and other social media fora.
Here to help discuss our rights and restrictions in using social media is Managing Partner Paul Harding from the law firm of Martin, Harding & Mazzotti. So Paul, jumping right into this, with regard to trial, why aren’t jurors allowed to discuss the case or do their own research?
Paul: Yeah, so we want jurors to come in with their common sense, with their life experience, but we don’t want them to become investigators, right? Because there’s a thing called admissibility. So evidence which is admissible is what you need to consider to come to a conclusion. So, you know, here, if the juror says, “You know, I was pressured. I, sort of, rendered this decision under some pressure,” that’s worth looking at, right? But beyond that, jurors are going to be jurors, and, you know, we tell them what not to do, and if we find out that they’ve done some things, it’s sometimes a mistrial.
Interviewer: Would it have been a problem in this case for the juror to share his opinions or thoughts on the case after jury duty had concluded?
Paul: Yeah. After jury duty, they can research, they can do a podcast, they can go on and talk about it. So it really is their ability to say what they’re going to say. But sometimes during that, they say something like, “While we were there, we felt pressured, or while we were there, you know, one juror was sleeping through.” You know, those are things that are appealable. But yes, they are allowed to say whatever they want to say regarding their experience.
Interviewer: Then can social media sites like Facebook and Twitter regulate and censor content? Because don’t people in groups really have a First Amendment right to free speech?
Paul: It’s been a hot topic as of late as the election that passed, you know when there’s stuff being censored. So what happens is we have a First Amendment right to express ourselves and to get information. But we’re usually talking about governmental agencies not cutting us out, right? That’s when we say the government needs to give us our protection of free speech. Private companies, when you go to sign up for Facebook, you sign about a two-page thing.
You say, “I agree.” No one reads it. And so you are working with a private company. They can say how we’re going to use this site, what we’re going to put on this site. And they ultimately have control as to what goes on that site. So, can they edit? Can they remove things? They can.
Interviewer: All right, Paul. Thanks so much for answering all of our questions. Of course, if you’d like more on this topic, you can head to our website, cbs6albany.com.