Professor Dr. Patrick Keyzer of Bond University, and colleagues, have published The courts and social media: What do judges and court workers think? Judicial Officers Bulletin, 25(6), 47-51 (2013).
Here is a summary:
This article reports on the findings of a small research project conducted in February 2013 with 62 judges, magistrates, tribunal members, court workers, court public information officers and academics working in the field of judicial administration. We acknowledge that there were no journalists present, and our findings therefore are skewed towards the legal profession. However, so far as we are aware, this is the first attempt to gauge the opinions of some key stakeholders on the issues in this area. We intend to follow up this pilot project with more research to build on our findings.
After describing our research methodology, we outline the findings and offer our brief reflections. […]
To ascertain the opinions of the participants, we employed a decision-making and problem-solving process referred to as nominal group technique […]
The issues the participants identified, in ranked order, were:
1. Juror misuse of social media (and digital media) leading to aborted trials.
2. Sub judice issues/breach of suppression orders (by tweets, Facebook or other social media), that “go viral”, and the difficulties associated with enforcement of restraining orders.
3. Increased risk of cyberstalking/opportunities for invasion of privacy or intimidation/bullying of the private lives of court case participants, including victims, jurors, judges, workers.
4. Misrepresentation of court work and activity to a community that may not understand the processes or issues involved/rapid spread of misinformation about trial processes and courts.
5. Disclosure of information to witnesses or others waiting outside inside court.
6. Difficulty in testing authenticity and credibility of social media journalism/lack of verification of social media publications.
7. Need to educate judges, court staff, the public and media. Risk of disenfranchisement of people and institutions that do not use social media.
8. Using social media to communicate court decisions and engage with the community.
9. Improper recording of court proceedings, confidential matters, evidence.
10. Defamatory statements that “go viral” on social media, creating the spectre of increased litigation. […]
For more details, please see the complete article.