Facebook is increasingly being used in courts to decide who is—and who isn’t—suitable to serve on a jury, the latest way in which the social-networking site is altering the U.S. court system.
Prosecution and defense lawyers are scouring the site for personal details about members of the jury pool that could signal which side they might sympathize with during a trial. They consider what potential jurors watch on television, their interests and hobbies, and how religious they are.
Some legal experts oppose this growing practice of scouring social-media sites, arguing that the traditional jury-selection process, which involves lawyers questioning prospective jurors, provides more valuable information than out-of-context online comments.
“I don’t think we should abandon that system in favor of Internet snooping,” said Jason Schultz, co-director of the Samuelson Law, Technology & Public Policy Clinic at the University of California, Berkeley, law school. “There are a number people who post who they want to be, as opposed to who they are.
"Searching for Details Online, Lawyers Facebook [and Google] the Jury"
Gary Price (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.