Guest post by Arianne Fuchsberger, M.A.,
Research Associate, Persuasion Strategies:
Almost a year ago, the ABA released Formal Opinion 466 clarifying that it is permissible for “a lawyer to [passively] review a juror’s or potential juror’s [public] Internet presence.” Since then, researching seated or potential jurors online has not only become an option, but a necessity. Any additional information on your panel can aid in jury selection and during the actual trial, and lawyers should be doing everything they can to gather information about the individuals who may become the deciders in their case. With the accessibility and abundance of information on the Internet, it would be senseless not to use it.
67 percent of adults use at least one social media website, with 52 percent of adults using two or more. Ranging from blogs to the all-mighty Facebook, there are hundreds of social media websites where you can gain information about a potential juror. Facebook alone has 1.4 billion active users, 25 percent of whom do not use any privacy settings on their account. LinkedIn comes in at 7th with 347 million active users, and the 10th-ranked social network Twitter had over 288 million active monthly users as of March 2015 (statista.com). Beyond social networks, there are also public Internet articles, company websites, public documents, and many more sources of information that can inform you on a potential juror. But with all that information out there, it can be challenging to filter through it and find useful information. I will provide several tips on how to go about locating the full range of an individual’s online presence, and share some guidelines on identifying useful information once you do find the person.