The Daily

On Knowing

Do we know more and understand less more quickly in the age of the internet?

With a fraction of the effort consumed by library trekking in the past, platforms like Wikipedia now give us immediate access to “answers”. As we know, these sources hardly bear the authority of the Library of Alexandria. – but the convenience is overwhelming. S0 … who goes to the library anymore?

Here is a link to one book on the subject.

During any trial, jurors are instructed to rely solely upon the evidence presented at trial in arriving at their verdict. This limits them to testimony given in the witness box and documents admitted during the trial – all approved under the watchful guidance of the judge. In this sense, they are forced to remain within the confines of the evidence approved by the Judge in the courtroom. The judge will specifically prohibit jurors from conducting their own research, experiments, or site visits.

In my experience, jurors adhere to the judge’s instruction, but there are exceptions. During a jury trial of a medical malpractice case that I led involving a brain-injured baby, a juror trying to be helpful brought a medical text into the jury room that was opened to a page on hydrocephaly (one of the medical issues in the case). It took half a day to unwind that violation of the judge’s instructions.

But what about less obvious behavior that leaves little physical evidence? What about a Google search on a personal cell phone? What about a juror conducting personal business at home who accidentally runs across an article on one of the issues being presented. Or worse, algorithms feeding links and information to jurors’ devices based upon what they are doing and hearing as jurors? Where monied interests are involved, what are the odds that there hasn’t been a scheme to push information to individual jurors to influence them in a case where the stakes are high?

If the internet has taught us anything, it is that false information that bolsters previously held notions can be extraordinarily persuasive. For our right to a jury trial of our peers to be meaningful, jury verdicts must be based upon EVIDENCE not influenced by outside factors or ‘opinions’.

Everybody seems to wonder what it’s like down here
I gotta get away from this day-to-day running around
Everybody knows this is nowhere
La la la, la la la la
Everybody, everybody knows, everybody knows (La la la, la la la la)

Neil Youg & Crazy Horse