After ongoing controversy over the last two years, the American Bar Association ruled this week that it is ethical to search potential and active jurors’ social media profiles. Lawyers peruse social media websites during trial, looking for any sense of juror misconduct or bias. They also spend a great deal of money on jury consultants who research online forums to find individuals who they think will render the verdict they’re looking for. Judges are still torn, some allowing passive research while others conclude that it’s overly invasive.
Many already look at the requirement of jury duty as burdensome. Unfortunately, I think the ruling of the ABA will only prove to cast a more negative connotation on serving. If individuals know that the legal teams are actively searching through their personal lives, it’s bound to make them feel uncomfortable. From the lawyers prospective, however, I think the ABA’s ruling is a positive one. By looking at a potential jurors’ posts, pictures, shared articles, etc, they can immediately weed out any who they may think will be bias or supportive of their client.
This is yet another lesson in how what you share on the internet can be used in any number of ways. Do you agree with ABA’s ruling? How would you feel as a juror if you knew that the legal teams were searching your social media profiles?