Juror sentenced for trying to friend defendant on Facebook

Juror sentenced for trying to friend defendant on Facebook

Summary: Jonathan Hudson was sentenced to two days of community service and removed from a trial after trying to friend the defendant on Facebook.

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TOPICS: Smartphones
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22-year-old Jonathan Hudson was removed from a trial after trying to friend the defendant, Courtney Downing, on Facebook. After trial recessed for the day on July 18, the young juror sent Downing the friend request and mentioned the case on the social network. The interaction came to light after the defendant told her lawyer about it, who in turn told the presiding judge. Hudson was dismissed from the jury the next morning, on July 19, according to court records.

Hudson then sent Downing an apology message, saying he thought she was someone else, but she didn't believe him, court records show. He wrote that he was being prosecuted for his actions, adding that he didn't use names or talk about what kind of case it was on his Facebook profile.

"I pretty much just said I was selected to be on a jury," his Facebook message to her read. "I'm pretty upset over this and I'm sure you guys are too. I guess you know what it feels like to be prosecuted too. Good luck with everything."

Steve Gordon, Hudson's attorney, says his client feels bad about his slip-up. "He seemed to be a very nice kid who just made a silly mistake," told the Star-Telegram. "It is a reflection of the times. Most everyone has smartphones now. They can hop on at almost anytime. And there's a lot of down time in jury duty, so what most people do is hop on their phone. But the rules are there for a reason."

The trial, over a 2008 car wreck, continued with 11 jurors. Hudson last week pleaded guilty to four counts of contempt and was ordered to serve two days of community service.

Texas recently added specific language to jury instructions that bans jurors from discussing the case on social networks. Hudson had received those instructions.

"I've never seen this before," prosecutor Chris Ponder said. "But I'm afraid this is a new reality as the technology is so ubiquitous that we'll have these types of things occur."

Topic: Smartphones

Emil Protalinski

About Emil Protalinski

Emil is a freelance journalist writing for CNET and ZDNet. Over the years,
he has covered the tech industry for multiple publications, including Ars
Technica, Neowin, and TechSpot.

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22 comments
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  • Master Joe Says...Wow

    How dumb can one guy be? Regardless of what the crime she was being tried for was, how desparate for a friend can someone be to send a friend request to a person on trial for whatever crime? That's one step above seeking someone in prison already. Then, rather than own up to his stupidity, he claims he thought she was someone else? Give me a break. This guy got off too easy, if you ask me.

    --Master Joe
    SteelCityPC
    • RE: Juror sentenced for trying to friend defendant on Facebook

      @MasterJoe

      maybe she's a hottie!
      Rob.sharp
      • RE: Juror sentenced for trying to friend defendant on Facebook

        @rob.sharp@... My first thought too!
        Gr8Music
  • This is a blatant violation of his right to Free Speech!

    And I demand this decision be overturned and ruled unconstitutional at once.
    UrNotPayingAttention
    • RE: Juror sentenced for trying to friend defendant on Facebook

      @chmod 777 You forgot the irony ikon.
      bargeemike
    • RE: Juror sentenced for trying to friend defendant on Facebook

      @chmod 777

      I guess the forum stripped out your (sarcasm) tags.
      fatman65536
      • RE: Juror sentenced for trying to friend defendant on Facebook

        @fatman65536 Absolutely! Zdnet is going to have to get it's act together! (Good comment, though from @chmod777.)
        bargeemike
  • RE: Juror sentenced for trying to friend defendant on Facebook

    The cynic in me wonders if he was trying to get some sort of "hook up" in exchange for his voting her way... pretty dumb move on his part either way to try and friend the girl during her trial. He got off lucky.
    athynz
    • RE: Juror sentenced for trying to friend defendant on Facebook

      @athynz That was what I was thinking too...so not just stupid but sleazy too.
      Blurgle
  • Abuse of Power

    In a Gowachin Court, the prosecutor would have been entitled to ritually execute the juror.
    Dr_Zinj
  • Let's do the math...

    He's 22. She's 18. He was definitely looking for SOMETHING... we all know what.
    "nudge nudge wink wink say no more!"

    What a raging sack of Derp-mones.
    jmwells21
  • RE: Juror sentenced for trying to friend defendant on Facebook

    Jesus! Even at twenty-two you would have thought he would have grasped the meaning of "contempt of court".
    bargeemike
  • RE: Juror sentenced for trying to friend defendant on Facebook

    There's a Law & Order episode like this, except the juror has a crush on the ADA's assistant. Too bad they canceled the show, this could be another episode.
    kehutchinson
    • RE: Juror sentenced for trying to friend defendant on Facebook

      @kehutchinson You're not going insane. There WAS an episode like this. Jury Forewoman was "eye flirting" with the defendant. Contacted him outside of the trial. Unfortunately it was one of the episodes that happened during one of the seasons they refuse to release on DVD.
      revelated
  • RE: Juror sentenced for trying to friend defendant on Facebook

    "Friend" is not a verb, "Befriend" is.
    Pimlico Kid
    • RE: Juror sentenced for trying to friend defendant on Facebook

      @Pimlico Kid haha! yes, the english language has been dealt another blow. just like Americans who don't "go on" vacation in Hawaii, they just vacation in Hawaii...lol
      super_flea
      • my peeve; "pregnant for..."

        @super_flea Around here women of all ages will say "...when I was pregnant <i>for</i> Brandon..." Instead of "when I was pregnant <i>with</i>..."

        One is "pregnant with child" not "pregnant for child."

        ~erg~~ :p
        pgit
    • RE: Juror sentenced for trying to friend defendant on Facebook

      @Pimlico Kid "Friend" is a neologism specific to an act on a specified social networking site. It is used as a verb within this context. You may disparage such coinings, but it IS a verb in context.
      bargeemike
    • RE: Juror sentenced for trying to friend defendant on Facebook

      @Pimlico Kid "friend" is now a verb. At least when you're facebooking someone. Sorry. Any word can be verbed.
      dqkennard
    • RE: Juror sentenced for trying to friend defendant on Facebook

      @Pimlico Kid: it is another example of people verbing nouns (add sarcasm icon).
      Common+Sense