Potential juror in hot water over Google searches - FOX 13 News

Potential juror in hot water over Google searches

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TAMPA (FOX 13) -

On the fourth day of jury selection of a death penalty murder trial, Judge William Fuente forged ahead, never giving any hint of his anger and disappointment just 24 hours earlier.

That's when potential juror Vishnu Singh went online and googled information about the case he might soon decide.

Singh told another potential juror about his search, and when judge Fuente eventually found out, he hit the roof, threatening to throw the juror in jail.

"The bottom line is, pay attention to what the judge says," explains former Judge Susan Sexton.

Judge Sexton, who was a Hillsborough County Circuit Judge for more than 20 years, says jurors are ordered not to gather information on their own. But she says misconduct like this is nothing new.

"It's a difficult situation for the judge and the system to have to have something like that happen, because you have to keep the jurors as untainted as possible in order to render a fair verdict," said Judge Sexton.

Earlier this year, a juror in Sarasota was kicked out for trying to contact the defendant on Facebook. And during the Casey Anthony trial, one potential juror got in trouble after talking to a media producer.

Judge Belvin Perry made him pay a fine.

Last year, Hillsborough Circuit Judge Gregory Holder held 200 potential jurors in contempt for failing to show up for jury duty.

"Our system of justice is so precious, so important, and this is one aspect of our government where you can make a difference," Judge Holder said.

Judge Sexton believes in this era of Twitter and Facebook, judges need to take more control by controlling the message.

"And just start keeping a list and be specific. You can't Facebook people, you can't look up things on your iPad during the break, you can't do this. I don't see any other way to address it," said Judge Sexton.

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