Can lawyers use social media to pick the perfect jury?

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HOUSTON – If you’ve ever been arrested, this ought to sound familiar: “Anything you say can and will be used against you.” And if you’re serving on a jury anytime soon, what you say online can and will be held against you, too. The American Bar Association has decided it’s okay for lawyers to consider people’s online social profiles when selecting a jury — meaning what you say on Facebook could be the difference between getting picked and going home.

The thing is, it’s really nothing new.

“We’re going to have twelve folks from the community that get selected, we want to make sure those twelve folks walk in with an open mind,” Houston Attorney Brant Stogner says, “so yeah, we’ve been doing this for a while.”

The difference is that the ABA’s decision removes any ethical questions about whether it’s an invasion of privacy for lawyers to look at your public profile.

“If you’re anybody and you put it out there, it’s public information,” Houstonian Kat Behaine says, “and it’s no holds barred after then.”

So if you get a jury summons in the mail and don’t want lawyers looking at your profile, the best thing to do is set your account to private. And if you’re looking for a sure fire way to not get selected for jury duty – Well, we’ll let you decide how to handle that one.


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