A juror on a murder trial was dismissed Thursday when the trial judge learned through an anonymous phone call that she had ignored a direct order to stay away from the Internet and had posted entries about the case on Facebook.
Among other things in a long list of entries — posted while she was in the courthouse — the woman said the case "intrigued" her and she wanted be in contact with the accused after the trial; that a fellow juror annoyed her so much by cracking her knuckles that "I want to punch her..." and that she thought the defendant was "presumed guilty."
She also took photos in the courtroom hallway of other jurors' shoes, posted them on her Facebook page, and made disparaging remarks about them, according to transcripts of a court hearing on her dismissal.
In one instance, she posted "clunky running shoes which I am pretty sure are not used for their intended purpose."
She did all of this after Superior Court Judge William Froeberg warned her and all of the others jurors, as he always does, that they are not to do any independent investigation, consult any reference material, such as a dictionary, or talk about the case with anyone else, until deliberations begin.
Froeberg took it one step further in his admonishments to the jury in this trial. He added "and the biggest evil facing the world today; the internet. Please stay off the internet...oh, and tweeting. We don't want any tweeting or texting either," he told the jury.
The woman juror did not tweet, apparently, but she did post several entries on her Facebook page about being selected as juror number 12 in the trial of People versus Christian William Carney, which is scheduled to last several weeks.
Carney, 25, of Manorville, N.Y., is charged with murdering a fellow Marine in a secluded area of San Clemente over a dispute about stolen drug money. He faces a potential 53 years to life term in prison if convicted.
Froeberg, Orange County's second longest tenured judge, found out about the Facebook entries after opening statements had been delivered when an anonymous caller contacted the presiding judge of the Orange County Superior Court.
Deputy District Attorney Ebrahim Baytieh, when he learned about the violation of the court order, asked that the juror be dismissed, yelled at, and possibly prosecuted, according to a transcript of the hearing.
"This is very disturbing conduct because the judge very clearly instructed the jurors about doing anything online during the trial," Baytieh said in an interview later.
The Facebooking juror was later dismissed from the jury, and an alternate was selected for the remainder of the trial.
"It is unfortunate in this day and age that things are taken so lightly, such as trial when people's lives are at stake," Froeberg said when he sent the juror off, "It is very disappointing to me to find this out.
"The rest of you, I don't want to have to deal with this again. Stay off the internet. Don't talk about this case," the judge added.
"And certainly, don't be Facebooking."
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