Selecting jurors using Facebook

August 12, 2008 at 9:04 am | Posted in General Interest | Leave a comment
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From the National Law Journal: “Jury consultants and trial lawyers typically compose jury questionnaires for jurors to answer during voir dire, if approved by judges. Some of the questionnaires are basic — employment, marital status, age, criminal record. But some are dozens of pages long and highly detailed.

Still, consultants and lawyers have found that jurors don’t always answer the questions honestly. So they have, in recent years, begun hiring private investigators and conducting their own research on jurors.
Jeffrey Frederick, a jury consultant at National Legal Research Group of Charlottesville, Va., now routinely checks the Internet for juror information, and has had some success.

Two years ago, he discovered through an Internet text search that a juror had won the lottery. Working for defense counsel in a personal injury case, Frederick feared the juror might “treat the case like a lottery,” or think nothing of awarding a large amount of money. He recommended striking the juror, although the case wound up being dismissed.

Frederick also found, through an Internet search that turned up a news story, that a juror on a recent personal injury case had an accident almost identical to the plaintiff’s. He urged the defense lawyer he was working for to strike that juror.

About a year and a half ago, Frederick said, he started asking on jury questionnaires whether jurors have pages on MySpace, Facebook or other social-networking sites. It’s helpful to ask, Frederick said, because sometimes the page will be under a different moniker than the juror’s actual name. About 10% of jurors report they have such a site, he said.”

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