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The Courts

Internet-Caused Mistrials Are On the Rise 414

The NYTimes is running a tip-of-the-iceberg story about how the age of Google is resulting in more mistrials as the traditional rules of evidence, honed over many centuries, collide with the always-on Internet. Especially when jurors carry the always-on Internet in their pockets. (We discussed one such case recently.) "The use of BlackBerrys and iPhones by jurors gathering and sending out information about cases is wreaking havoc on trials around the country, upending deliberations and infuriating judges. ... Jurors are not supposed to seek information outside of the courtroom. They are required to reach a verdict based on only the facts the judge has decided are admissible, and they are not supposed to see evidence that has been excluded as prejudicial. But now, using their cellphones, they can look up the name of a defendant on the Web or examine an intersection using Google Maps, violating the legal system's complex rules of evidence."

"Consider a spherical bear, in simple harmonic motion..." -- Professor in the UCB physics department