Social Media a Valuable Tool in Jury Research

While most people rely on social media as a way to keep up with family and friends, social media platforms have also shown to be an effective vetting tool. 

A person’s social media profile can provide valuable information about his or her background, beliefs, likes, and dislikes. And if you have ever been called to serve on jury duty, your social media activity is a rich source of intelligence for trial lawyers. 

Social media searches can prove invaluable during the jury selection process. A 2016 report by the Pew Research Center found 79% of Americans use Facebook. Broken down by other social media platforms, the study found 32% of Americans use Instagram, 31% use Pinterest, 29% use LinkedIn, and 24% use Twitter.

These likes, posts, tweets, and pins shed light on a potential juror’s attitudes, feelings, and beliefs, and many attorneys use this information to supplement juror questionnaires. Each social media platform has its own unique offerings.

Facebook profiles provide attorneys with a wide array of information, from personal and professional relationships to educational levels and political leanings. Wouldn't it be helpful to know a prospective juror’s mother is a doctor if you are an attorney preparing for a medical malpractice case? Or that a potential juror is a fan of an elected official facing public corruption charges?

Twitter is a great tool to learn more about a user’s opinions. A potential juror’s tweets criticizing a restaurant’s service would be useful if the juror was called to serve in a slip-and-fall case against the chain.

Pinterest offers a glimpse into a user’s hobbies and favorite activities. An attorney representing a poultry company would want to know that a juror pinned vegetarian recipes because he was opposed to animal cruelty.

Instagram can feature photos of a user’s day-to-day activities. An Instagram user who regularly volunteers at a food bank may not be an ideal juror in a fraud case against a former employee of the food bank.

LinkedIn is a useful tool to ascertain a potential juror’s educational level. An attorney dealing with a complex tax case may or may not prefer someone with decades’ experience in accounting.

As additional social media platforms are developed and launched, the amount of information available on a person’s public persona will grow. Attorneys should conduct social media searches responsibly, following each jurisdiction’s ethics protocol and limiting searches to visible social media profiles.

Social media is a key element of jury research and serves as an important supplement to juror questionnaires and voir dire examination.

 

To learn more about Select Litigation’s services, including jury selection, visit our website or find us on Facebook and LinkedIn

Nathan Green