Will the Internet Taint a Loughner Verdict?


As Arizona plans a trial for accused Tucson shooter Jared Lee Loughner, a new set of questions has arisen: How will a jury be able to sit in impartial judgment, untainted by nonstop online coverage of the crime and its aftermath? What safeguards should a judge impose to keep the jury from following the case on the Internet and reaching a verdict based on facts that aren’t in evidence?

The Sixth Amendment guarantees every criminal defendant, no matter how heinous the charges, the right to trial by a fair and impartial jury. That means, among other things, that jurors aren’t allowed to consider facts not in evidence. So judges routinely instruct jurors not to discuss the case with anyone outside the courthouse and not to read or listen to news reports about the case.

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