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Judge says Google can't google potential jurors for trial

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Google can't google — or at least it can't google potential jurors in its upcoming trial, in which it is defending charges Oracle America Inc. made against it in a copyright dispute over the Java computer language.

Those are the terms of a deal Mountain View, California-based Google Inc. has agreed to with Redwood City, California-based Oracle following an order last month by U.S. District Judge William Alsup in San Francisco, who is hearing the case that has dragged on since 2010.

In that order, Judge Alsup gave litigants the choice between banning Internet and social media research on jurors until the trial is concluded, or agreeing to disclose details of the scope of their intended online research. The litigants chose the former, as indicated in a subsequent ruling by the judge earlier this month.

“Trial judges have such respect for juries — reverential respect would not be too strong to say — that it must pain them to contemplate that, in addition to the sacrifice jurors made for our country, they must suffer trial lawyers and jury consultants scouring over their Facebook and other profiles to dissect their politics, religion, relationships preferences, friends, photographs and other personal information,” said Judge Alsup in his March 25 order.

In an article, John C. Greiner, a partner with Graydon, Head & Ritchey L.L.P. in Cincinnati, wrote of the agreement that perhaps Google and Oracle “concluded that at the end of the day, the smartest thing to do in trial is not get the judge mad. Not a bad rule of thumb actually.”