Social Media and the Courtrooms By Attorney Amy Risseeuw

On behalf of Peterson, Berk & Cross, S.C.

There is significant debate among judges, lawyers, reporters and the public regarding the use of social media in the courtroom. From the perspective of most lawyers and judges, the main concern is the that jury is free of influence during the trial, and bases its decision solely upon the evidence presented in the case.

In Wisconsin, jurors are normally instructed that they are not to discuss the case with anyone until all the evidence has been presented and cautioned not to do any outside research. The pattern jury instructions were updated in 2010 to specifically caution jurors not to communicate about the trial by blog, e-mail, text message, Twitter, Facebook, or any other social networking site while performing jury duty. While at the same time as the courts are attempting to protect the jury from outside influence, Wisconsin law allows for media in the courtrooms, including television cameras and the broadcasting of court events.