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Lawyers Can Now Check Out Social Media Sites Of Jurors

(credit: KTVT/KTXA) Andrea Lucia
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NORTH TEXAS (CBS 11 NEWS) – If you are called in for jury duty you may want to make sure your Facebook page is set to private. Lawyers now have the green light to scope out your social media sites.

Those showing up at the Frank Crowley Courthouse for jury duty can expect that lawyers will ask questions to root out any possible bias, but chances are, if you’re active on Twitter and Facebook, they already know a little bit about you.

You may freely spill your secrets on social media, posting about what you had for lunch and who you’re dating. But when attorneys start poking around a lot of folks feel differently about how the information is used.

“No, I wouldn’t like that at all. Mmm… mmm,” said Cecilia Zamora.

Yvonne Munoz takes the action somewhat personally. “Honestly, it’s kind of a breach of my space.”

The American Bar Association has decided there’s nothing wrong with looking at a juror’s public posts and weighed in a formal opinion.

♦♦ Click Here To Read The Formal Opinion By The ABA ♦♦

Southern Methodist University law professor and attorney John Browning certainly takes advantage of the option. “We’re on a search for information,” he said. “We want to find out who’s gonna make the best possible jury for our clients.”

If you’re outspoken on guns an attorney might not want you deliberating a crime involving one.

If you’re in an interracial relationship, an attorney might assume you’d better relate to a defendant that is in one too.

The strategy, though, goes beyond jury selection.
Browning says, during trial, an attorney could be interested in your life philosophy, in one case zeroing in on quotes a juror had posted from the book, “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.”

He said, “The lawyer will actually work that into his or her argument, as a way of building rapport with that particular juror.”

Attorneys may also want to know you’re not Tweeting about the trial. 
The bar association, though, does draw the line at ‘friending’ jurors on Facebook or exchanging messages with them.
 Beyond those parameters, as long as it’s public it’s fair game.

Browning’s advice, “Be careful what you post.”

(©2014 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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