This article continues the recent trend of revealing the reaction to jurors who participate in Social Media during trials. While most people follow the court’s instructions to not discuss an ongoing trial it seems that some jurors may not understand that social media discussions constitute a conversation.

I suspect that the lack of quantitative analysis on mistrials and overturned decisions due to improper participation by jurors and attorneys alike in the social media world will soon be overcome.  The anecdotal stories are causing enough of a stir to prompt bar associations to consider  guidelines and provide updates and education on the topic of web based interactions.

Sure, the laws and regulations are slow to catch up but the wait time is a lot shorter.  This issue is an important one that attorneys and law firms must be aware of and plan for strategically.  Advantages exists when social media is applied appropriately.  This application can range from trial techniques and the questioning of proper procedures to business development and marketing.

There are dangers.  Using social media as a communication tool is not necessarily advisable but using it as an investigative tool should be considered part of your due diligence within the ethical practice of law boundaries.

Judges, attorneys must take responsibility to inform jurors of proper actions in the social media as related to the cases they are hearing.  If not, problems will multiply because stopping the flow of social media information is next to impossible.

Constance Ard September 28, 2009