Surf at Your Own Risk: For the First Time in New Jersey, Judge Holds Juror In Contempt for Internet Use During Deliberations
Last month, the Hon. Peter E. Doyne, A.J.S.C. found jury foreperson Daniel M. Kaminsky to be in criminal contempt pursuant to R. 1:10-2 for violating several orders of the trial judge that prohibited jurors from engaging in any independent research during trial as set forth in In re Kaminsky, (N.J. Sup. Ct., Bergen County, Mar. 12, 2012). After a mistrial was declared in the underlying criminal drug case and two fellow jurors reported Kaminsky’s Internet use, the Court found beyond a reasonable doubt, in the context of an Order to Show Cause hearing and related in camera proceedings, that (1) Kaminsky conducted independent research; (2) the act was contemptuous; and (3) the conduct was willful and contumacious, “with a complete disregard of the court’s authority and instructions.” Although the foreperson was subject to a maximum punishment of six months in prison, a $1,000 fine or both, he was only fined $500.