In jury trials it is routine for the judge to instruct the jury to refrain from any contact outside of the courtroom with anything or anyone related to the case. It is not unusual for a juror to let curiosity get the best of him or her and to do a bit of independent research. When this occurs and is discovered the result is most often that the offending juror is admonished and dismissed from the case.
In one court, however, the transgression was taken a bit more seriously as the guilty juror was sentenced to community service after “friending” the defendant on Facebook and discussing the case on the social network. The defendant notified her attorney who in turn told the judge. Officials in the Texas county court said that this was the first instance that they were aware of where a juror had contacted a party in a case via the internet.
Most jurors take the judge’s instructions seriously, but some people do not understand the importance of limiting a case to the evidence provided in court and feel justified in making inquiries of their own. This is a serious problem which undermines the legitimacy of trial results.