February 24th, 2012 by Rebekah Smith
In November, I wrote a post about how divorce attorneys were using Facebook and other social media sites to research parties in litigation. In my previous post I referenced an article where the attorney said that, “People are stupid.” when talking about their use of Facebook. In an interesting twist, I just read an article about a juror who thought he was using Facebook in a brilliant way, but perhaps didn’t think his actions all the way through. You decide.
In Sarasota, Florida, a man allegedly “friended” the defendant in a case while he was serving on the jury. When the defendant told her lawyers that the juror “friended” her, he was kicked out of the courtroom and admonished by the judge. Allegedly, he posted his excitement for being kicked of the jury to his Facebook wall. Smart move? Maybe not. The judge has since scheduled a new hearing to discuss his contempt of court which could carry jail time and a fine. Yikes.
We’ve used Facebook and social media in our cases many times. We use it to for lifestyle evidence, job history, evidence of income or assets, career changes, background information on parties etc. And I have actually had a couple of cases where someone on the other side of a litigation matter, their attorney or their paralegal has tried to connect with me on LinkedIn or another social media site. But a juror? Nope, never.
It does raise an interesting question – do attorneys use social media to research or monitor jurors in a trial? Well, after reading about the Florida case…maybe they should!