Southeast Texas Record columnist John G. Browning recently was awarded a First Place trophy by the Press Club of Southeast Texas.

One of Browning's "Legally Speaking" columns, "When All That Twitters Is Not Told: The Dangers of the Online Juror," was the winner in the general column, non-daily newspaper category.

The column examined what can happen when a juror with Internet access or a smart phone can gather information about a case, do research or communicate with other jurors or witnesses.

"As it turns out, jurors engaging in such digital digging is a growing problem, and the explosive growth in popularity of social networking sites like MySpace (over 150 million users); Facebook (which just passed the 200 million mark worldwide), and Twitter (the third most-used social network) makes it more likely than ever that jurors will leave the privacy of the jury room for cyberspace," Browning wrote.

Browning, a partner in the Dallas office of Thompson, Coe, Cousins
& Irons LLP, gave examples of recent instances when technology
has created a problem -- like a juror who polled her Facebook
friends on how to decide the case, another who discussed
deliberations on his blog, and jurors tweeting from the jury box.

The column also discussed the role of judges in instructing jurors
and the need for laws to keep up with technology.

The award was presented at the Press Club of Southeast Texas
Excellence in the Media Awards banquet on June 4. He also tied for
second place with another "Legally Speaking" column, "But He
Loves Me," about teen dating abuse.

"When All That Twitters" also received a Burton Award for
Distinguished Achievement in Legal Writing Award, which
Browning accepted in Washington, D.C., on June 14. At the black tie
event Browning was able to mix and mingle with justices from the
U.S. Supreme Court.

"Legally Speaking" appears weekly in the Southeast Texas Record and in several other publications in Texas.

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