For most people, the definition of friend took on a new meaning in the Facebook era.
However, for an Arlington, Texas-based pizza driver, the definition of friend reached a whole different level. Jonathan Hudson was taking a break from his day job to serve on a Texas jury concerning a 2008 car wreck. Hudson decided to send a Facebook friend request to the defendant in the case, Courtney Downing, according to Yahoo's Digital Trend's blog.
Hudson's plan was thwarted when Downing reported the request to her attorney. This led the judge to dismiss Hudson from the jury.
Of course, this didn't stop Hudson. He once again tried to contact the defendant, claiming that he had the wrong Courtney Downing. The second friendship attempt Hudson to plead guilty to contempt of court charges last week, and now he must perform 16 hours of community service.
Before allowing someone to sit on a jury, a candidate will be brought into court by the attorneys to determine, among other things, whether a person has any sort of relationship with those involved with the case, including the defendant, witnesses and even the judge. Online relationship can add a new layer of complexity to the whole process.
This is not the first time an incident like this has happened. In June, UK juror Joanna Fraill admitted contacting the Jamie Stewart, the defendant of a large drug case, through Facebook while the trial took place. Fraill told The Guardian that she contacted Stewart because she felt empathetic and saw considerable parallels between their lives.
The Facebook contact led to the demise of the entire trial, with Stewart eventually acquitted of the drug charges. Both Fraill and Stewart received contempt of court charges, and were sentenced to eight months and two months suspended, respectively, according to The Guardian. This is believed to be the first contempt charge in the UK levied concerning Internet conduct.
There have been other unusual juror-defendant relationships in the past. Rodney King, a high-profile police brutality victim in Los Angeles during the 90s, got engaged with a juror from the civil trial, Cynthia Kelley.
She is a godsend, a blessing in my life, King told blog RadarOnline at the time.
It was like we were never apart from one another, Kelley then told the site.