Juror’s ‘Friend’ Request Nets Judge’s Unfriendly Ruling

Defendant receives Facebook message from juror

By Bruce Felps
|  Monday, Aug 29, 2011  |  Updated 7:29 PM CDT
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A juror in a Tarrant County civil trial who tried to

Chris Van Horne, NBC 5

A juror in a Tarrant County civil trial who tried to "friend" the defendant on Facebook has been cited for contempt and ordered to spend two days doing community service.

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Commentary
by Bruce Felps

Seated jurors are not supposed to discuss their assigned cases outside the courthouse.

Sure, some if not most talk about proceedings with spouses over dinner or friends out for cocktails, but there’s no transcript of the conversations, which, probably for the most part, are fairly benign anyway.

Jonathan Hudson, though, took his jury duty to Facebook. According to Sunday's Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Hudson sat on a Tarrant County jury charged with determining Courtney Downing’s civil case.

Not only did Hudson make a general Facebook post about the trial, he also sent a “friend” request to Downing, according to the article.

No, no compromising objectivity there.

She told her lawyer, the lawyer told the presiding judge, and the presiding judge told Hudson he was in contempt of court and, oh yeah, he’d be doing two days of community service to pay his debt to Facebook society.

The judge also dismissed Hudson from the case, and Hudson then sent a Facebook message to Downing saying, paraphrased, “Oops, sorry, I thought you were someone else.” Uh huh, nice try, there, Jonathan.

Does social media make us do stupid things or do we just have another public forum for displaying those stupid things we do?


Bruce Felps owns and operates East Dallas Times, an online community news outlet serving the White Rock Lake area. He and Facebook have a tenuous relationship. 

The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of NBC, NBC 5, NBCDFW.com or its employees.

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