Tarrant County Juror Charged Over Facebook Friend Request

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A Facebooking juror in Tarrant County is in trouble with the law because of his online activity.

Prosecutors there are trying to send a clear message that social media instructions will be seriously enforced.

The Tarrant County District Attorney's Office recently found itself investigating a juror who was selected for a civil case, because of his behavior on Facebook.

Their message: Jury duty and Facebook don't mix. The pairing recently landed a young Tarrant County juror in the hot seat himself.

"He wrote about the trial, he then attempted to friend the defendant. He then tried to contact the defendant after the fact," said Tarrant County Assistant D.A. Chris Ponder.

22-year-old Jonathan Hudson's attorney says it was a naive mistake.

'It was a situation where the defendant in the same case he was a juror on came up as a friend suggestion and he accepted the friend suggestion," said Hudson`s Attorney Steve Gordon.

Court records show Hudson making contact. In a Facebook message to the defendant he wrote: "The picture is literally smaller than a penny, so I didn't recognize you."

But Tarrant County prosecutors say he went too far. The say new revised jury instructions on social media are made very clear.

"The supreme court as a nod to the evolving technology changed the instructions given to jurors to specifically prohibit any interactions with the parties or the attorneys by social media; mentioning Twitter, Facebook and Myspace," said Ponder.

The presiding judge found Hudson guilty of contempt of court. A crime Dallas attorney, Clint David, say people shouldn't take lightly.

"Judges send defendants to jail for contempt of court all the time," said Attorney Clint David.

Hudson was sentenced to community service. A punishment his attorney thinks is appropriate.

"It`s probably more a matter of his age and experience first time being on jury service and continuing to do the things that he would probably normally do everyday," said Gordon.

The Tarrant County D.A.'s office says this is an issue they'll continue to take seriously whenever it arises.

"The role of a jury in Texas has to be protected," said Ponder.

All the attorneys I spoke with agree cases like this are rare, because this kind of activity just might come to light. In this case the defendant told her attorney what was happening.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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