A traditional ban on outside research and conversations for empanelled jurors was officially extended to social media last week under California law when Governor Jerry Brown approved a new law which criminalizes the use of electronic and wireless devices by jurors, according to a recent blog post published by FindLaw.

Although jurors have received warnings regarding the use of social media for a few years now, a law was deemed necessary in response to a series of high-profile cases put in jeopardy due to the failure of jurors to follow directives. Now disobeying this order is misdemeanor criminal contempt and punishable by up to six months in jail, according to the post.

Under the new law, state judges will instruct jurors not to use any kind of wireless or electronic communication to “conduct research, disseminate information, or converse with, or permit themselves to be addressed by, any other person on any subject of the trial,” according to the post.

Although defining a punishment for noncompliance is a step in the right direction, it is unknown whether or not the law will have any impact on juror communications via social media, according to the post. Nevertheless it seems to be a problem the court system will have to deal with.

Thomson Reuters News & Insight has covered the impact of Facebook, and other social networking sites, on the legal system in the U.S. and around the world.

For more information on social media and the law, listen to a recent Legal Current podcast.

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