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The Champion

March 2019 , Page 55 

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We, the Jury: Jurors’ Knowledge of Social Media Posts Concerning Potential Riots Results in New Trial

By Ama Appiah

The Iowa Court of Appeals (per curiam) granted a new trial in State of Iowa v. Christensen,1 finding dispositive defendant’s claim of juror misconduct based on the introduction of extraneous information into jury deliberations.

A jury found Lee Samuel Christensen guilty of second-degree murder. During trial the judge instructed jury members that they were not to communicate with anybody about the case, and not to view any media about the case, including social media. They were even specifically instructed to not communicate about the case through texts and social media before reaching a verdict. Despite these instructions, several jurors engaged in conversations or reviewed posts on Facebook discussing threats of riots and retaliation against jurors if they did not find the defendant guilty of murder. Eight of the 12 jurors acknowledged that the information about potential riots and retaliation was discussed in the jury room after deliberations had begun.

The Iowa Court of Appeals conclu

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