Legislation currently being considered before the state assembly would give certain judges the authority to fine jurors whose internet use puts the integrity of a trial in question. What's more, the Associated Press reports that going forward, being an internet addict might be enough to get you bumped from a trial.
Paula Hannaford-Agor, Director of the Center for Juries Studies at the Nation Center for State Courts, suggested that those who can't help themselves from accessing the internet may just be sent home. “If you have an internet addict who just can't psychologically stop, you may want to excuse that person,” she explained to the AP.
As noted by the AP, a 2011 state law means that "improper electronic or wireless communication or research by a juror" is already punishable with a contempt charge. However, that was rarely done as it is a bureaucratically time-consuming process, and so the new legislation would lower the barrier for censuring jurors.
"It's disruptive of the judicial process, and there ought to be a fairly simple and convenient way for a judge to sanction a juror based on the order that the judge has given,” Assemblyman Rich Gordon (D-Menlo Park), who authored the legislation, explained. Fines could be as high as $1,500 for any juror that looks up information about the case online, or who otherwise engages in inappropriate digital activity.
If passed, the new law will first undergo a five-year pilot program in selected areas throughout the state.