The Magna Carta drafters did not contemplate Facebook, Twitter, or texting when they formalized the jury system, a system that remains mostly unchanged 800 years after its inception. Those primed for jury duty over the coming decades have grown up with a cell phone in their hand and news at their fingertips. It is unreasonable to expect Gen Zers to meet the “radio-silence” mandate of jury duty. As smartphones become the de facto method of communication, courts, legislatures, and scholars offer prohibitions, admonitions, and increased punishment to curtail juror misconduct. These reforms, however, do little to prevent the kind of harmful error they seek to avoid. Instead, jury reforms deter members of an already-reluctant jury pool and demonize communications that do not infringe on defendants' due process rights. This Article explains why the presence of smartphones demands courts exercise flexibility and understanding when considering juror misconduct. Juror misconduct reforms are overreaching and unnecessary; harmless error review is all that is necessary to regulate juror smartphone use. In this instance, the presence of new technology demands change; failure to accommodate Gen Z communication will yield a breakdown in our jury system.
Leslie Y. Garfield Tenzer, The Gen Z Juror, 88 Tenn. L. Rev. 173 (2020), https://digitalcommons.pace.edu/lawfaculty/1199/.