Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Younger Bars Federal Relief for Juror on Facebook

Per BNA's U.S. Law Week, March 15, 2011, Volume 79 No. 34:

The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California Feb. 14 declined to issue a temporary restraining order to a juror seeking to enjoin a California trial court judge from enforcing an order requiring him to issue a consent with Facebook to provide updates he made during a criminal trial. The juror noted on his Facebook account that he was “still” on jury duty and “bored” during the case, and left other comments regarding evidence in the case. The court became alert to these comments when another juror became friends with the original juror on Facebook and noted the comments to defense counsel. The California trial court judge ordered the juror to issue a consent to Facebook to supply those comments after Facebook declined to provide the information, feeling it was constrained by the Stored Communications Act. The juror, having lost an appeal to an intermediate state court, was seeking review with the California Supreme Court when he also filed the TRO request with a federal court, noting he did not feel the state supreme court would rule in time. The federal court declined to issue a TRO under the Younger abstention doctrine. It found that the juror did not show “state law either procedurally or substantively bars presentation of his claims to the California Supreme Court” and that the juror did not contest the other two prongs of the Younger doctrine in that there was a pending state court proceeding that implicated important state interests. Juror Number One v. California, E.D. Cal., No. Civ. 2:11-397, 2/14/11.


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