Residents React to American Bar Association allowing Lawyers to Scan Social Media Sites of Jurors

Jury pools often number 50 to 100 people.

So picking the right twelve to decide a case can be tough for lawyers.

Now the American Bar Association has decided it is ethical for lawyers to check social media sites in their research of jurors.

A glance at a public facebook page can show your likes and dislikes and possible bias when it comes to deciding a case in court.

That’s why a lawyer says scanning social media helps in selecting an unbiased jury.

Katrina Richards with the Hershewe Law Firm says “It’s really hard to ask questions that would be so tailored to that specific situation and so by googling and by searching social media is one way we can find out a whole lot more information than the juror may be telling us in the voir dire process.”

Lawyers will also be looking at sites during and after a trial. But

not all agree lawyers should be looking at postings and tweets.

Tony Fischer says, ” I just think probing into your social media or probing into someone’s social media is unethical and an invasion of privacy.”

Lori Jones agrees, “I think it’s none of their business.”

Others think is a good idea.

Jeremy Bratten says, “What if you say something that might be considered racist on twitter and you get picked for the jury and the persons black. I wouldn’t want that would you?”

Some argue facebook doesn’t always give true perceptions of people especially if their accounts been hacked.

Sarah Winkelman says her account was and says, “Other people can put things on there that aren’t even your thoughts or your own words so. ”

Erin Commons says, “There might be some things on facebook that might not be exactly what you thought but someone commented that went against what you were thinking and if they just take that part of it.. ”

According to Richards, social media postings can affect a trial, even result in mistrials.

Richards says, “If you have one juror who’s communicating with another juror through social media and you can see that, and they’re discussing things about the case they’re not supposed to be discussing at that stage of the case, that can be bad. A juror may say I’ve already made up my mind when they haven’t heard all the evidence.”

James Smith approves of lawyers scanning sites. He says, “There’s too many cases being thrown out because of somebody who claims racism later on. It’d be best if you could find out before hand and not have to go through all that expense of trying people two or three times because the defense finds somebody to complain about. ”

Richards says there are lines lawyers can’t cross. They can’t communicate with jurors or their families.

Richards says, “We cannot friend request them we cannot , um, send personalized tweets to them. We cannot communicate with them via email.”

Even after cases are closed, posts can have an impact.

One man had to forfeit a lawsuit settlement after his daughter made a social media post breaching the confidentiality agreement.