How Lawyers Can Use Social Media In Investigations and Process Service
Part 3 of 3: Jury Screening Using Open Source Intelligence
Would you choose a juror whose Facebook was full of racist posts?
How about a juror with an Instagram account filled with substance abuse?
Or a juror who tweets about harsh prison sentences, religion, or political affiliations?
In today’s share-everything social media world, lawyers and private investigators have more budget-friendly options available when it comes to jury screening.
With the release of ABA Formal Opinion 466 in 2014, lawyers are free to research potential jurors online with no repercussions (as long as they don’t send an access request). This means lawyers can also ethically and legally use an investigator who utilizes Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) to go beyond Google to gain insight into a potential juror.
With more than 60% of potential jurors having social media profiles, this means there’s a wealth of information waiting out there on more than half of any potential jury.
Previously private investigators had to go through more typical “gum-shoe” investigations to gather information on a potential juror. This involved calling old employers, friends and family members, looking through old records and county court searches.
As technology has moved forward, many private investigators have moved out of the field and behind a computer, utilizing databases, algorithms and OSINT techniques to get the information they need. For lawyers, this means jury screening has become much more affordable to conduct.
While potential juror questionnaires can give some insight, information found on social media can help uncover biases and give you a rough sketch of the individual’s political leanings, opinions and personality.
Every trial attorney knows how important jury selection is to the outcome of a case. The use of OSINT techniques by private investigators and the ability to create a cost-effective, detailed work-up of a potential juror is just one of the many positive impacts technology has had on the legal community.
Amanda Sexton, Director of Corporate Development: On The Lookout Investigations
Amanda Sexton is the Director of Corporate Development at On The Lookout Investigations and DGR –The Source for Legal Support, winners for the past three years of the New Jersey Law Journal’s annual ‘Best Of’ survey. She is currently President of the New Jersey Professional Process Servers Association, a board member of the Legal Vendors Network and attends local and national conferences and training sessions to stay on top of the latest techniques and regulations for both process service and private investigations, including online investigations and social media surveillance.
Amanda blogs at www.dgrlegal.com/blog and www.otlollc.com/private-investigations-blog and can be reached at email@example.com.