Posted Feb 18, 2011 09:19 pm CST
Some lawyers, surreptitiously searching sites to uncover the personal details of potential jurors, are instigating a privacy debate and raising questions about whether the online vetting process has enough court supervision.
Before selecting jurors, lawyers conduct in-depth searches, delving into individuals’ online identities to ascertain how they are likely to side on particular issues. The online information gathered on prospective jurors is compiled into spreadsheets, reports Reuters Legal.
“Jurors are like icebergs—only 10 percent of them is what you see in court,” Jason Bloom, a Dallas-based jury consultant, told Reuters Legal.
With social media sites providing unabashed looks at people’s private lives, online vetting allows lawyers to uncover the unromanticized, often undisclosed, facts about prospective jurors. In Cameron County, Texas, prosecutors can use iPads to search the Facebook profiles of potential jurors, according to a recent ABAJournal.com post.
Online vetting is redefining the jury selection process, turning the question and answer session known as “voir dire” into “voir Google,” said Reuters Legal.
Although online vetting is increasing in popularity in U.S. courtrooms, lawyers are reluctant to discuss the process “because court rules on the subject are murky or nonexistent in most jurisdictions,” reports Reuters Legal.
ABAJournal.com: Prosecutors in One Texas County Will Use Courtroom iPads to Search Potential Jurors on Facebook
Last updated Feb. 20 to note the source of the jury post is Reuters Legal.