Wanna Get Out of Jury Duty? Post on Facebook Wanna Get Out of Jury Duty? Post on Facebook
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Wanna Get Out of Jury Duty? Post on Facebook

by Alex Goldmark

February 24, 2011

In yet another example of how social media is upending our traditional practices, the Wall Street Journal reports on a potentially dangerous legal trend.

Prosecution and defense lawyers are scouring [Facebook] for personal details about members of the jury pool that could signal which side they might sympathize with during a trial. They consider what potential jurors watch on television, their interests and hobbies, and how religious they are.

Do we want our juries to be comprised of only the people with sanitized Facbeook pages? Probably not. On the other hand, how bad can it be to give lawyers another tool to ferret out biased jurrors before a trial?

Now, we are already living in a world where we're judged for potential dates and jobs by our online lives, but for our potential for judgment? What's troubling about the idea of Facebook influencing the jury selection for death-sentence trial is that this expanding trend of online background checks means we are rewarded (or punished) with jobs or jury spots for how well we guard our personalities in the digital town hall of Facebook and Twitter. And we should have more incentives for originality, personality, and honest opinion in every sphere, not another disincentive like being judged by lawyers for a political wall posting. 

Take comfort, though. Lawyers will still scrutinize your ingrained bias as much as your online lives in the traditional question-and-answer jury selection process. Facebook is merely a supplement ... for now.

What do you think? What on your page would get you disqualified?

Image: (cc) by Flickr user aprilzosia.

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Wanna Get Out of Jury Duty? Post on Facebook