5

I find it interesting that apparently judges are allowed to read news and opinions about the litigation in front of them, whereas juries would not be.

Why is there such a distinction, and are there any limitations to ensure fair rulings?

For example, this is regarding Citing previous Malibu Media’s sheer abuse of court process, New York judge denies early discovery (via DSLR: King v. TWC), where the judge apparently cites some industry study about copyright trolls, and explicitly names the plaintiff as such, denying its motions and dropping the lawsuit.

  • 2
    Pretty much everything a judge does is on the record and can be reviewed on appeal. Juror deliberations are private and are difficult to review for bias. – ColleenV Jul 9 '15 at 18:50
  • I've taken the liberty of adding the "United-States" tag, since your examples appear to be about the rules in the United States; other countries may have other rules. – Mark Jul 9 '15 at 21:29
  • 1
    That is not an industry study, it is an academic paper published in a peer-reviewed law journal – jqning Jul 9 '15 at 21:47
  • 1
    @jqning In law, unlike most other academic disciplines, academic papers are generally not peer reviewed. Instead, law review articles are reviewed and edited by the editorial staff of the law review which are run by second and third year law students at the institution with which the law review is affiliated. – ohwilleke Nov 30 '16 at 13:59
7

Your question slightly misrepresents what the article says: Yes, the judge denied the motion which led to the collapse of the case, he did not make a ruling on the substance of the case.

The distinction is significant to my mind as the judge was using non-evidentiary knowledge (i.e. what he read in the paper) to make a decision on process; in this case a process that would have put a lot of people to a lot of inconvenience. It would not be proper for the judge to have used such knowledge to inform a judgement.

It is also not clear from the article if the academic paper in question was actually introduced by the defendant as evidence. If that was the case then it is only right and proper for the judge to consider it.

As to why a judge is allowed to read the news and a jury is not, I can offer several ideas:

  1. A judge must document their reasoning process in a judgement which is subject to review - if they were to make a decision based on matters not supported by the evidence then an appeals court could correct it. Alternatively, juries are specifically prohibited from revealing their reasoning process to anyone.
  2. Judges do their jobs for years, perhaps a whole career - to prohibit them from consuming media is a) unworkable and b) a serious impediment on their lifestyle. Juries are empaneled for weeks or months - such sacrifices are more reasonable.
  3. Judges are (supposedly) trained and impartial professionals who are more readily able to make the distinction between evidence and news.
  4. Newsworthy cases are relatively rare
  • It's worth mentioning that in the U.S., not only are juries prohibited from revealing their reasoning, their findings are not subject to review. No matter how outrageously wrong their verdict is in the eyes of any observer, an appeal arguing that the jury erred is simply not allowed. – EvilSnack Apr 9 at 3:47

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.