“Juror’s Cellphone Not Subject to Search”

District of Maryland Sets Guidelines for Cell Phone Preservation in Place
April 10, 2023
Lawyers, Not Law Firms, Must Pay Sanctions
April 16, 2023

Cell phones have led to thorny legal issues.  For example, in Juror’s Cellphone Not Subject to Search (americanbar.org)(Feb. 21, 2023), Steven B. Chaneles, wrote that, in response to a post-verdict challenge:  “A federal appeals court ruled that a trial judge has no authority to order a search of a juror’s cellphone….”

The ABA article reports that a juror allegedly “had been posting on her private Facebook page during the trial about her jury service.”  The court held a hearing and:

[T]he district court judge ordered the juror who made the postings to preserve any electronic communications related to her jury service. When advised of the order, the juror responded that she had already deleted the posts. The defendant then moved for leave to conduct a forensic examination of the juror’s cellphone. The district court denied the request on the grounds that it lacked legal authority to order that search.

Id. (emphasis added).  The Sixth Circuit affirmed.  Mr. Chaneles added:

In ruling against a search, the court also expressed concern about the intrusion on a juror’s privacy interests and noted the special status of a juror deserving a level of respect beyond that compared to an ordinary witness.

He reported that the trial court also “found credible the juror’s testimony that she did not access outside information about the case notwithstanding the Facebook posts.”

For additional issues discussing cell phones, see: