Can Social Media Cause Jury Bias?

The Heard v Depp trial sparked major news coverage and pop culture attention this year. The civil defamation case found Amber Heard guilty of all three claims against her while Depp was found guilty for one against him. After the verdict, Heard spoke out claiming the unfavorable depiction of her on social media played a part in skewing the jury’s decision. On July 1, 2022, Heard’s legal team filed a request with Judge Penny Azcarte to reject the jury’s verdict, dismiss the lawsuit, or order a retrial. It is unclear whether they will use social media influence as a defense. Nonetheless, a juror’s social media use and access can help make a case for an appeal on a conviction.

Remmer vs The United States
Criminal defendants have the right to due process. One imperative condition of due process is that a defendant must be granted a trial “by an impartial jury”. In the Supreme Court 1954 case of Remmer vs United States, they upheld that if any external information a juror or jury is exposed to related to the case results in bias for the jury, then it violates a defendant’s due process. In Remmer, a jury member was exposed to newspaper articles pertaining to their case. This called for a “Remmer hearing” where if a convicted party can prove a juror was improperly influenced or engaged in any misconduct, then a retrial can be granted. With the rise of social media, there is a boom in demand to use Remmer hearings towards any juror’s online engagement over a trial that might influence their decisions.

Making an Appeal in Florida
In the state of Florida, with the exception of the death penalty being imposed, an appeal is taken up with the District Court of Appeals. It is not a new trial in itself but rather an examination of the trial’s legitimacy to determine if any mistakes might have affected the outcome of the trial. In regards to a jury’s social media activity, the court must rule that their activity falls under misconduct or significant bias on their verdict. While judges advise jurors not to use social media or not use the internet to research, some jurors may still do so. Merely using social media or the internet is not enough to successfully appeal a court’s decision. Therefore, arming yourself with an experienced and effective lawyer is important to look into exactly what may or may not be useful to prove your innocence through an appeal.

If you have been convicted of a crime and you believe the jury’s misuse of social media or online access have violated your due process rights, call us today at 954.928.0059. Hiring a team like us is your best chance at exploring your options for an appeal. Schedule a free consultation today. We are more than welcome to answer any questions you may have.

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