How does a lawyer pick a jury?
Recently the American Bar Association came out with the position paper providing lawyers ethical guidance on using social media to investigate jurors. This is not news to lawyers. We have been looking for ways to get inside the heads of jurors forever. The main method we have is called voir dire, commonly called jury selection. It is the question-and-answer process that goes on in every jury trial. The lawyers get a large pool of candidates, and from that pool, they ask questions. The answers to those questions determine who they want on a jury. The lawyers each get a set number of strikes they can use for any reason called peremptory challenges. The lawyers also get to strike jurors for “cause” if they find out the juror is biased. For example, if you are suing State Farm and a juror works for State Farm, it would be unfair for them to be on the jury, so they get struck for cause.
How Social Media Affects Jury Selection
Now, with the invention of social media, lawyers can hire investigators to get online and look into every juror’s social media profile. This will tell the lawyers far more about the personality and preferences of the jurors sitting on the jury pool. It will say things about the music the person likes, the type of pet they have, the number of siblings, the marital status, the religion and the political affiliation of that potential juror. Anything you post in a public forum is fair game. Sounds intrusive, but it really isn’t. Keep in mind, lawyers are not allowed to “friend you” to get behind the public persona. So, the only information available to the prying eyes of the lawyers on your case is the information you personally posted on your public site. Of course, the key is to tighten up your Facebook and Twitter accounts, so you get the public off your profile. If you don’t do that, don’t blame the lawyers for looking at all your public posts.