We are continuing our discussion of the State Bureau of Investigation inquiry into juror misconduct during the Jason Young trial. Young was convicted of murder last week; a day or two later, the judge received information from Raleigh’s WRAL that several posts on the station’s Facebook page indicated that members of the jury were communicating with the public before the trial was over.
According to news reports, the judge often reminded the jury not to discuss the case with anyone and not to read or watch anything about the case during the trial. A violation of the rule could mean a mistrial — another mistrial, in this case.
In our last post, we mentioned that the judge had sent a letter to the SBI asking the agency to investigate the posts. The judge then sent a letter to the jury forewoman, advising her of the investigation.
In that letter, the judge indicated that the situation is not unheard of, especially in high-profile cases. The judge reassured the forewoman that no member of the jury was suspected of misconduct, but the reports had to be investigated if only to discover their source. The SBI will need to speak with every juror.
In fact, the situation is not unheard of in this trial. Two prospective jurors were dismissed for communicating information about the trial to outsiders. One had texted during jury selection; the other had discussed the case in a restaurant, where he was overheard.
In post-trial interviews, the forewoman and individual jurors have discussed the difficulties of being involved with such a high-profile case for such a long time. The trial lasted for four weeks.
Source: News & Observer, “Jury in Young retrial is now under investigation,” Anne Blythe, March 7, 2012