The judge who presided over Jason Young’s murder trial has asked the State Bureau of Investigation to verify information forwarded to the court from a Raleigh television station. The station, WRAL, found posts on its Facebook page that claimed to have received inside knowledge of the trial from members of the jury. If wrongdoing occurred, Young’s conviction could be set aside and another retrial ordered.
WRAL monitors its Facebook page 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. When station personnel came across the posts, management decided to forward them to the judge. The move is unprecedented, according to a WRAL manager.
Specifically, the posts discuss what the writers or their friends had heard from unnamed jurors. One post author said, for example, that he knew of a juror who “texted or discussed the case in the presence of other members of the public” prior to the jury’s deliberations. Another post claims that the author’s hairdresser had heard from a juror during deliberations, as well; the allegation was that the juror had texted that the panel was deadlocked at 9 guilty and 3 not guilty, a change from the 7 to 5 count earlier.
The judge notified the SBI in a letter with copies of the posts attached. According to news reports, the judge indicated in the letter that he did not believe the posts had “any credible factual basis.” He added that it is his duty as an officer of the court to report any information that “challenges the integrity” of a jury verdict.
His next letter was to the jury forewoman. We’ll discuss that in our next post.
Source: News & Observer, “Jury in Young retrial is now under investigation,” Anne Blythe, March 7, 2012