1015 SUMTER STREET,
TO: Magistrates and Municipal Judges
FROM: Robert L. McCurdy, Assistant Director
RE: Jurors Use of Personal Communication Devices
DATE: July 29, 2009
I have provided the following link to an Order of the Chief Justice dated July 20, 2009, concerning the use of personal communication devices by jurors. http://www.sccourts.org/whatsnew/displaywhatsnew.cfm?indexID=564 Recently, a mistrial was declared in a circuit court case due to a juror's researching the criminal history of the defendant on a personal communication device and sharing that information with the other jurors. In response, Chief Justice Toal issued the linked Order, which supplements an existing Order requiring that jurors be instructed by a presiding judge of certain prohibitions concerning the use of pagers, cell phones, and other personal communication devices. The Order requires that the court instruct jurors selected to serve on a jury that, until their jury service is concluded, they are prohibited from using those devices under certain circumstances. We would recommend that you inform jurors of the provisions of this Order at the following times:
-- In the case of those courts conducting terms of court, jurors should be instructed after a jury has been struck for a case, and instructed a second time when the jury is reassembled for the trial of the case, if a significant time lag exists between those two events.
-- In the case of those courts pulling jurors for a single trial, jurors should be instructed after the jury has been struck for that trial. If the trial is not held immediately after the strike and a significant time passes before the actual trial, the jury should be instructed again just prior to trial.
A copy of this Order will be placed in the online Benchbook. Should you have questions concerning this matter, please do not hesitate to contact this Office.