Facebook Used For Jury Background Checks

Facebook and other social networking sites are being used as a tool in background checks conducted by lawyers on prospective jurors in the US.

Jury consultant specialists and lawyers use Facebook as one of the means to determine whether a prospective juror will be favourable for their case or not.

Amber Yearwood, from juror consultancy Trial Behavior Consulting based in San Francisco, told PC Mag that jury consultants, who are most lawyers, view jurors' profiles on Facebook or MySpace to determine whether their attitude will help or harm their client's cause.

Yearwood said that they look for case specific attitudes and people who have dominant, leader like qualities.

“Each side looks for who their problem juror might be and what attributes they have. 'Leadership' functions as a magnifier of how bad someone might be for you. Suddenly a borderline strike becomes a priority strike,” she explains.

In one case a person's Facebook profile made her sound highly opinionated. "We were concerned she might lead the charge against us, so we struck her," Yearwood said.

"This just highlights the broad lesson, probably more in the job search context than in the jury duty context—that every Internet user should know that if you have information you don't want viewed by the public, don't make it publicly available."