Lawyers look up prospective jurors on Facebook to try to find people whose interests suit the attorneys’ respective clients.
The Wall Street Journal has reported that both attorneys for both plaintiffs and defendants use the social network to research potential jury members’ possible biases. The lawyers look at what people watch on television, religious beliefs, interests and hobbies. This seems like a potential time savings compared to asking candidates about these things in person.
This strategy for juror research shouldn’t come as a huge surprise given that lawyers look at Facebook has become a primary way for attorneys to gather evidence and law enforcement officials to pursue investigations — and most people on the social network unwittingly make this fact finding so easy by not using privacy settings to shield profiles from public viewing.
The novelty comes from the hypocrisy of the legal experts who criticize the use of the site to research prospective jurors — the critics don’t question whether it’s unethical to use the site to build up a case but consider it unfair to use Facebook to inform juror selection.
If you’ve ever done jury duty in a city that requires all participants to show up at the courthouse for the process — rather than allowing you to phone in to find out when you’re needed — surely you can appreciate how allowing attorneys to research prospective jurors would save plenty of time for all involved.
Readers, do you think researching prospective jurors on Facebook fosters fair trials for all involved?