It's a shocking, disheartening story for a variety of reasons, and it has received no shortage of press given the high-profile celebrity who's involved. And that has made it a difficult case in the criminal courts. Judge Nicholas Garaufis released a statement this week saying he will not be tolerating unruly behavior from the jurors involved.
As the court continues to discuss this matter, the judge overseeing this legal matter believes the jurors will "ignore their duties" and look at Twitter, Facebook and other corners of the Internet to get their information, rather than the lawyers and witnesses standing in front of them regarding this case. As Judge Nicholas Garaufis comments, "this is a real issue" and he will not be tolerating any foul play when it comes to their duties with this high-profile discussion. Trivialities won't be tolerated, as The New York Post reported. Garaufis is quoted by the press saying:
The El Chapo trial case [shows] that people donâ€™t listen to judges. The jurors will go on the internet, Twitter, and ignore their duties. This is a real issue and I am going to come down very hard on the jurors. Iâ€™ll even make a reference to the US Attorney. We are here to do justice, not spread gossip about the defendants on trial.
As Judge Nicholas Garaufis notes, these comments come shortly after the recent prosecution of Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman came under fire following allegations of similar juror misconduct regarding their conviction. This judge doesn't want this similarly notorious case to be the subject of other legal mishaps when it comes to the jurors, and he is bringing down the whip with regards to the activities of the jurors inside this trial. The law is a serious matter with very serious consequences.
We are in the Internet age, even if it's barely a few decades old. While media influence on legal matter is nothing new -- with tabloids and other journalistic sources known to affect the conclusion of the jurors -- the Internet is a hard thing to shut away from people for a long period of time. It's difficult, especially with this case, to keep people completely in the dark with what the media and public online are saying. Either intentionally or not, that might be influencing a few people in the jury right now, and that's a cause for concern when it comes to the decision they're soon set to make for Judge Nicholas Garaufis. The court of public opinion might be influencing the actual court of law.