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Facebooking Jurors Before Letting Them In YourSpace

Maybe that title is a little too cute. (I picked it after Kerry Prindiville, a librarian at the Fresno Public Law Library, sent me the link to an article on the use of social networking sites by jury consultants.) And maybe it’s time for me to move on from writing about MySpace, Facebook and other social networking sites. It’s something of a hot topic, however, and I have some pretty strong feelings about it.

My other articles about this may be found here and here. Those articles have started to attract some attention of their own….

The first article brought attention from both Sam Hasler’s Indiana Divorce & Family Law Blog and LawyersUSA. When Boston reporter Justin Rebello first contacted me I wasn’t sure I’d be able to read the article he was planning to write: LawyersUSA runs around $199 per year —a little out of my range for a magazine. However, it turns out the article can be found online here.[1]

A simple Google search will show you the importance of social networking and the law in general. As has already been discussed here on Probable Cause, investigators are increasingly using social networking sites in both civil and criminal investigations. In 2006, the House of Representatives passed a bill, which later hung up in a Senate committee, to “delete online predators” and Senator Ted “Internet Tubes” Stevens (R-AK) (as Jacqui Cheng of Ars Technica appropriately called him) made another run at it in 2007. Social networking sites and blogs have resulted in lost jobs, libel and defamation lawsuits, as well as suits for copyright infringement. Lawyers are podcasting about social networking and the law. Stanford Law School is holding seminars on social networking law. Jury consultants are using MySpace, Facebook and other social networking sites to help pick jurors.

The popularity of social networking — and the growing popularity of their use in civil and criminal cases — means lawyers simply cannot ignore them. Heck, Collexis recently even created CasemakerX,a social networking site for law students! It’s safe to say, then, that social networking websites are here to stay. If you’re a lawyer, you better be up on the implications.

And if you’re a potential juror, remember: We’re watching you.



Footnotes
  1. I don’t know what’s more exciting: the fact that Probable Cause has already attracted that much attention or the fact that in the same month, my personal blog, Unspun™ attracted the attention of someone at Ariana Huffington’s website! The Huffington Post article quotes my article on Marbury v. Madison, one of the seminal and most important of all United States Supreme Court cases.
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