Jury selection gets the Facebook treatment

Picking juries is tough and there are companies out there making lots of money as jury consultants to lawyers. Then there is the increasing number of problems being faced by the courts over jury members disobeying judges as they Twitter comments while paneled or researching the case on Google.

There is no denying that the Internet and social media is having an effect on the justice system but know it seems that trial lawyers are turning to Facebook when selecting jury members.

While some countries simply select a jury at random and only excuse members if they have a direct link to the case, the US uses a jury selection process. This involves lawyers questioning a pool of potential jurors, with each side having the right to reject a certain number with (in most cases) no reason required. The idea is to allow both sides the opportunity to eliminate jurors who might be particularly biased against their case.

The Facebook research doesn’t seem to be as much about bias as looking for particular personality types. For example, if a potential juror comes across online as an aggressive personality with strong opinions, they could dominate the jury deliberations. That might make the outcome more unpredictable, which makes the person a bad pick for a side that feels confident it has the evidence on its side.

There are some more specific reasons for concern. A defense lawyer might look out for somebody who notes on their profile that they are a keen fan of crime procedural shows such as CSI: such jurors may place too much weight on the reliability of DNA evidence (and the fact that it does a much more reliable job of discounting a link than it does proving one.)

via Geeks are Sexy

What do you think? Should things like Facebook and other social media tools be banned from the legal court system?