Lawyers Can Research Jurors Social Media Websites, Bar Says

By: Matt Howerton Email
By: Matt Howerton Email

SAN FRANCISCO (June 23, 2014) The American Bar Association has given lawyers across the nation the go-ahead to scan social media sites of potential and deliberating jurors.

The decision comes after the ABA’s ethics committee reviewed the subject after some judges wouldn’t allow lawyers to conduct social media searches to help assemble a jury.

The ABA determined that such social media postings are means of ethical research.

Conducting social media searches aren’t uncommon in the courtroom. Software has even been developed to
monitor juror’s social media postings during a trial.

McLennan County 19th District Court Judge Ralph Strother allows lawyers to conduct social media searches in his
courtroom and says it can certainly aid the justice system.

“If a juror puts something out there in the public forum, I think its fair game,” Strother said.

“The more information a lawyer has about a potential juror the better the system is served, but I certainly wouldn’t
want any attorney talking to a juror individually.”

The ruling may help seat better juries, but mixed opinions have been voiced. Some say jurors wouldn’t feel totally
comfortable serving if they knew someone researched them specifically.

Several we approached in Waco weren’t fans of the ruling.

“I think it’s 'shysty' and it needs to change. That stuff happens way too often these days,” resident Mynda Residori
said.

Attorneys can only research what they see, meaning private posts are protected. But if your musings are public, then beware; what you type might land you in the jury box.


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