Commercial Litigation and Arbitration

Michigan Issues Model Jury Instructions Prohibiting Jurors from Using Computers or PDAs to Search for Information About the Case

Effective September 1, 2009, the Michigan Supreme Court adopted Model Civil Jury Instruction 2.06(3)-(4), which bars the use by jurors of handheld devices and computers to obtain information relevant to the case, and directs judges to instruct jurors as follows:

(3) While you are in the courtroom and while you are deliberating, you are prohibited altogether from using a computer, cellular telephone, or any other electronic device capable of making communications. You may use these devices during recesses, but even then you may not use them to obtain or disclose the kind of information I will describe next.

(4) Until you are discharged as jurors on this case, even when you are not in court, you may not use a computer, cellular phone, any electronic device capable of making communications, or any other method, to get any information about this case. Information about this case means:

(a) any information about a party, witness, attorney, or court officer;

(b) any news accounts about this case;

(c) any information on any topics raised in the case, or testimony offered by any witness; and

(d) any other information that you might think would be helpful in deciding the case.

These are a good starting point for use in any court. See the blog entry dated October 11, 2009, for discussion of some of the problems that this set of instructions addresses.

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