The advent of social media gave people the opportunity to share virtually unlimited data on the internet, including information about their personal lives. The chance for endless data sharing came with slew of ethical questions, primarily "Who should be able to view and use information that you post on social media outlets?"
In a recent announcement, the American Bar Association (ABA) stated that it is ethical for attorneys to review public social media profiles during jury selection and trials. Further, it is appropriate for lawyers to use this information to make educated decisions about the jury.
What does this mean for criminal defense attorneys? First, it provides them with the opportunity to conduct in-depth social media investigations about potential jurors. It also lets them use social media posts from jurors for discussion during the case. Finally, it gives attorneys the ability to observe jurors' online activities throughout trials.
While the ABA allows lawyers to observe jurors, it does not condone any interaction between them. This includes "following" and "friending," and is a form of interference with the case. Similarly, jurors are not allows to publicly post their opinions about the case online, although recent instances have seen jury members violating case confidentiality.
How can this help you?
Social media – when use correctly – can be beneficial for defendants. If your attorney collects enough information about potential jurors, he / she may be able to use this data to make more educated decisions during the selection process. To learn more about Koffel Brininger Nesbitt, contact our office to schedule a consultation regarding your case.
UPDATE: Ohio now provides potential jurors with an informative video to explain the judicial process and the importance of trial by jury. Learn more.