Oregon Adopts Social Media Jury Instruction

Last year I blogged about a new jury admonition adopted by Ohio on the use of social media.  With today’s release of the 2010 Supplement to the Uniform Civil Jury Instructions (UCJI), Oregon is the latest jurisdiction to explicitly address this issue.  Due to copyright privileges, I am not able to reproduce the new language here, but I can give you an overview.  Revised UCJI 5.01 specifically directs jurors to refrain from:

  • Searching the Internet, Web sites, or blogs
  • Using other electronic tools to get information about the case
  • Communicating by cell phone, e-mail, Blackberry, iPhone, text messaging, Twitter, blogs, Web sites, chat rooms, Facebook, My Space, LinkedIn, YouTube, or any other social networking site

The instruction goes on to make some interesting comments about why the law limits these forms of communication.  I encourage you to read it.  A 2010 supplement to the Uniform Criminal Jury Instructions (UCrJI) is still in progress, but presumably UCrJI No. 1004 will be similarly strengthened.  The current criminal instruction contains a brief admonishment against such communications.

The Uniform Civil Jury Instructions and Uniform Criminal Jury Instructions are included in BarBooks and therefore free to all Oregon lawyers.  You can access the revised civil instruction now via BarBooks.  If you prefer the traditional hard copy version, you can pre-order either or both at the Oregon State Bar Legal Publication Bookstore.  

Copyright 2011 Beverly Michaelis

Social Media and the Jury Room

In December 2009, the Committee on Court Administration and Case Management of the Judicial Conference of the United States endorsed a set of suggested instructions on juror use of electronic communication technologies.  In May 2010, Ohio jumped on board with a jury admonition:

The new instruction admonishes jurors not to obtain any information from outside sources including the Internet, reference books, newspapers, magazines, television, radio, a computer, a Blackberry, iPhone, smart phone, and any other electronic device, and further admonishes jurors not to send or receive e-mails, use Twitter, text messages or similar updates, blogs and chat rooms, Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, and other social media sites of any kind to obtain information regarding the trial.  (Excerpted from OSBA Jury Instruction Tackles Social Media, Electronics in the Courtroom.)

Could Oregon be next?  Looks like it.  The Chair of the 2010 Oregon Civil Jury Instruction Committee has confirmed that members are currently working on an amendment to Precautionary Instruction 5.01. 

Oregon Uniform Civil Jury Instructions (OCJI) are updated annually.  Based on prior publication cycles, practitioners should expect revised Precautionary Instruction 5.01 to be available in November 2010. 

OCJI are part of BarBooks and can be found online through the Member Login on the Oregon State Bar Web site.

Copyright 2010 Beverly Michaelis