It seems we may have taken this “But first, coffee” thing a smidge too far. A juror almost caused a mistrial by sharing personal details in the captions of her almost daily Instagram pictures of coffee. The java fanatic, who remains unidentified, was on the jury for Australia’s fairly high profile “Tinder murder trial,” reports ABC. The case involves Warriena Wright, who fell to her death from the 14th floor of her Tinder date, Gable Tostee’s, apartment back in 2014. Last Thursday, Tostee was found not guilty, but thanks to the juror’s coffee-grams, the defense argued for a mistrial.
While the juror’s posts aren’t filled with blatant red flags,they could be described as red-ish. Some began innocuously, reading,“Another day of jury duty, another fab coffee.” Keep reading, and the captions progress into uncomfortable territory.
"I snagged a nasty one, so it's a bit full on," she said of the case in another post. “Although it will be a tough trial, I will learn and grow from it.”
Another post was captioned, "I took [the trial] home with me yesterday and woke quite miserable this morning. Will make sure I leave it behind this afternoon.”
These posts, screen-grabbed by ABC, come with a location tag, whatever personal details are on the juror’s account, and her name written on the coffee. Those familiar with the timing of the case my have been able to deduce her involvement by piecing together these details. However, she disclosed neither evidence nor information about the jury’s deliberations, so it was not enough to cause a mistrial.
It was enough, though, to have people urging for updates to Australia’s Jury Act, which currently does not address the use of social media during trials. "I think the jury members' mobile phones and access to social media will have to be restricted during the course of the deliberations,” James Morton,criminal barrister and Queensland University of Technology lecturer, explained to ABC. "It's similar to quarantining a jury for deliberations, so we may have to take another step and quarantine jury members from phones and outside communications until they reach a verdict."
The judge in the case, Justice Byrne, also strongly condemned the juror’s actions. "That juror will discover when she accesses her Instagram account that many members of the public have commented on her decision to communicate with others during the course of the trial."