Judges always tell jurors not to do their own legal research during a trial. A jury is supposed to use the legal terms provided by the court. Our judicial system relies on legal standards that are known to both sides, defense and prosecution. The two sides to any trial will devote considerable time and energy to what legal definitions and terms are used in a trial.
One San Antonio juror did what many do these days, he looked up the definition of murder and manslaughter, I am sure, on the internet. That research resulted in a mistrial in a difficult murder trial. The District Attorney’s office has said they will seek a second trial.
Now, the defense lawyer wants the name of the juror and wants the juror to help pay for the expense of a second trial. See San Antonio Express News report. The defense lawyer wants the miscreant juror to help pay the attorney’s fees for his client. While, the prosecutor replies no, that juror should help pay for jury fees and the expense of bringing in out of town witnesses again. If the juror is found in contempt, s/he could be placed in jail for up to six months and be ordered top pay a fine.
This particular trial of a homeowner who killed an intruder is complicated. The "intruder" was shot several times outside in the driveway area. The homeowner used hollow point bullets. The home late at night looked very much like the home of the intruder’s family where he was staying. The "intruder" did not have a criminal record and was a college student at an out of town college. It was the sort of trial that comes with many expenses.
This will happen and has happened all across the country. The internet has made legal terms and definitions available to everyone with an internet connection. This sort of jury research has happened before. See my prior post. Jurors need to be alert more than ever to warnings and advice from the judge.