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In the May 2009 case of Zarzine Warlaw v. State of Maryland, Maryland’s Special Court of Appeals looked at the circumstances behind the conviction of a man charged with rape, child sexual abuse, and incest involving his 17- year old daughter. During the trial, a therapeutic behavioral specialist had testified about working with the victim on behavioral issues such as anger management and had opined that the girl suffered from several psychological disorders, including ODD (oppositional defiant disorder). A juror took it upon herself to research ODD online, discovered that lying was a trait associated with the illness, and apparently shared this knowledge with the other jurors. Another member of the jury sent a note informing the judge about this development. After reading the note to counsel for both sides, the judge denied a defense motion for a mistrial and simply reminded the entire jury of his instructions not to research or investigate the case on their own “whether it’s on the Internet or in any other way.” The appellate court found that this was not enough, and this since the victim’s credibility was a crucial issue, the juror’s Internet research and reporting of her findings to the rest of the jury “constituted egregious misconduct” that could well have been “an undue influence on the rest of the jurors.” As a result, the appellate court reversed the conviction and granted a mistrial.

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