Researching potential jurors for a trial used to be an arduous task which could, at times, net very little information. Not anymore. With the advent of the internet - especially social networks - a competent, innovative attorney can utilize these new public resources to discover information about their pool of potential jurors.
For example, in a recent federal trial in Harrisonburg, Virginia (VA) a lawyer said her dossier on jurors provided "five free strikes" (five people she can request be dismissed from the jury) because several of the jurors had lied about past legal involvements, according to Virginia Lawyers Weekly.
You might be thinking, "Isn't that an invasion of privacy?" The answer is no. Information posted on a social network and through Google search queries is considered public information. The only information that's restricted is private personal and financial information.
It's important to understand that for a case that winds up going all the way to trial, selecting a qualified jury is absolutely essential to the outcome of the case. As an injury attorney, I don't want a pro-insurance company, anti-injury victim juror for my case. In order to properly assess each juror requires a thorough analysis of past legal quarrels, profession, ideology, etc. Web sites like Facebook, MySpace, and even a simple Google search offer a lense into a juror's life that wasn't available before the internet.
Some of the information that's most readily accessible through simple Google searches include...
- Political contributions
- Web site visits
- Comments on Facebook, MySpace, and any other social networking site
- Letters to the editor of a newspaper