A Queens woman was fined $1,000—and advised to retain an attorney—after she posted details about a robbery trial while it was happening. How did she get the details? She was on the jury.
The Daily News reports that Kimberly Ellis "began posting details of jury deliberations about a 2014 robbery case — sometimes twice a day — from the Kew Gardens courthouse... 'Everything about this process is inefficient,' she complained in a Sept. 17 posting. 'I’m trying to remain positive and centered but, truthfully, I’m dying from boredom.'"
After the jury began deliberating, Ellis continued dishing — in detail — on Facebook.
“God help me,” she wrote in one posting. “The other jurors don’t trust the police and want to outright dismiss the confessions as well as the majority of the rest of the evidence. Tomorrow is going to be a very difficult day.”
One of Ellis’ Facebook friends just happened to be a former federal and Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office prosecutor — and she blew the whistle on the over-sharing juror.
According to the News, Queens Supreme Court Justice Ira Margulis said, "Now, can you tell me why you did this?" and Ellis answered, "Well, I sometimes — I suppose I forget it’s so public and it’s Facebook and it’s something that I use a lot. And I’m pretty quiet in my day-to-day dealings with people, so it’s just a way for me to, you know, express myself."
Margulis then said, "Even though you violated an expressed order from the Court not to do that?" He ultimately booted her from the jury, telling her, "It is in your best interests that you retain an attorney," and called a mistrial because there were no alternate jurors. It's believed that a re-trial will costs thousands, not to mention all the time spent by the prosecution, defense and witnesses put into the first one.
Ellis told the News, "I continued my personal life as if I was not there to judge a trial. It was my first time as a juror, and I was naive." Hasn't Al Roker taught us anything? She added, "I failed to make the necessary changes in my daily life...I feel terrible. I never meant to hurt anyone. I wasted a lot of people’s time and money, and I deeply regret what I did."
Last year, the American Bar Association ruled that it was ethical for lawyers and investigators to peek at jurors' social media activity, so they can "probe for information that might signal leanings of potential jurors, or unearth juror misconduct during trials."