IL Court Upholds Verdict Despite Juror's Blog Posts
A blogging juror can ruin a trial, but luckily for the family of Scott Eskew, it did not ruin theirs.
Eskew's family sued Metra after one of its trains struck and killed him. During trial, freelance writer and blogger Eve Bradshaw posted 6 entries describing her time as a juror. This was in spite of a court order to keep the details to herself.
Metra found out and challenged the $4.75 million verdict. It has since been upheld by an Illinois appellate court.
Blogging jurors can overturn verdicts if they go far enough. But the Illinois court found that Eve Bradshaw operated just within the bounds the law.
Jury misconduct will only alter a verdict if there is proof of bias. Jurors must have been influenced or prejudiced "to such an extent that they would not, or could not, be fair and impartial."
Bradshaw mostly wrote about lunch breaks and how the jurors found it difficult to not speak about the case. She also wrote about giving her husband non-specific information.
None of this indicated that the jurors had been exposed to improper extraneous information. Nor did the posts show that the jurors had improperly deliberated. In fact, the posts did just the opposite.
Premature deliberations are only improper if jurors don't keep an open mind, explains the court. One blog entry details an incident during which a jury member expressed her opinion of liability. The other members reminded her to keep an open mind and wait for all the evidence.
Oddly enough, Eve Bradshaw's blog proved that the jurors were doing what they were supposed to. Well, at least most of the time. A blogging juror is a juror acting in violation of a court order. Bradshaw could have very well been held in contempt of court.
- Jurors to be told not to tweet under new law (San Francisco Chronicle)
- Juror Misconduct: Don't Ask for a Cut of Potential Verdict (FindLaw Blotter)
- Blogging Juror Creates Debate but Judge Gives OK (FindLaw's Law & Daily Life)