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Is Jurors' use of Wikipedia enough for a mistrial?

Posted on Monday, May 14, 2018

In a recent Court of Appeals decision, the answer was a resounding "no." In People v Maliszewski, unpublished per curiam opinion of the Court of Appeals, issued April 9, 2013 (Docket No. 308879), it was brought to the Trial Court’s attention that one of the jurors had used Wikipedia to define “reasonable doubt” and “corroborating evidence.” In addition to these pages being printed out and handed to several other jury members, the jury foreman read the research about reasonable doubt to all the jurors. However, the Trial Court, citing People v Messenger, 221 Mich App 171, 176; 561 NW2d 463 (1997), concluded that no mistrial was necessary after conducting voir dire with the jury and confirming they could purge what they had read and strictly follow the court’s instructions. The Court of Appeals affirmed, noting that the Trial Court’s actions were proper, and did not fall outside the range of principled outcomes, nor did it impair Defendant’s ability to receive a fair trial.

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