New York Juror Fined For Posting Trial Information Online

A Queens, New York, woman was fined $1,000 after reportedly provoking a mistrial of a 2014 robbery case.

Kimberly Ellis posted details of the trial and jury deliberations on her Facebook page, New York Daily News reported. The trial was held in September.

Ellis provided regular updates on the trial, sometimes posting twice a day.

“Everything about this process is inefficient,” her Sept. 17 post read, according to the Daily News. “I’m trying to remain positive and centered but, truthfully, I’m dying from boredom.”

Even after the jury was in deliberation, her updates continued.

“God help me,” she wrote. “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.”

Ellis’ posts were flagged by a Facebook friend who had previously worked as a federal prosecutor and for the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office.

“Now, can you tell me why you did this?” Justice Ira Margulis asked Ellis in court Sept. 30, according to court transcripts cited by the NY Daily News.

“Well, I sometimes – I suppose I forget it’s so public and it’s Facebook and it’s something that I use a lot,” responded Ellis. “And I’m pretty quiet in my day-to-day dealings with people, so it’s just a way for me to […] express myself.”

“Even though you violated an expressed order from the court not to do that?” the judge replied.

Ellis acknowledged the court had explicitly told jurors not to use social media during the trial. She was held in contempt of court and kicked off the jury, which led to a mistrial.

“I continued my personal life as if I was not there to judge a trial,” Ellis said to the Daily News in an interview. “It was my first time as  a juror, and I was naive.”

“I failed to make the necessary changes in my daily life,” she added. “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.”

She was ultimately fined $1,000 for her actions.

Social media has been the subject of controversy in the courtroom over recent years, causing several mistrials due to conduct similar to Ellis’, according to nola.com.

In 2014, the American Bar Association (ABA) ruled that it is ethically sound for lawyers to search publicly available information on jurors via their Facebook pages.

Sources: New York Daily News, nola.com / Photo credit: Facebook via New York Daily News, Johan Larsson/Flickr


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