Meghan Dunn of the Federal Judicial Center has published Jurors’ and Attorneys’ Use of Social Media During Voir Dire, Trials, and Deliberations: A Report to the Judicial Conference Committee on Court Administration and Case Management (Federal Judicial Center, 2014).
Here is the executive Summary:
At the request of the Judicial Conference Committee on Court Administration and Case Management (CACM), the Federal Judicial Center conducted a survey of district court judges to assess the frequency with which jurors used social media to communicate during trials and deliberations in the past two years, and to identify strategies for curbing this behavior. The survey also assessed the frequency with which attorneys use social media to conduct research on potential jurors during voir dire. The survey is a follow-up to one conducted in 2011 on jurors’ use of social media; attorneys’ use of social media was not addressed in the original survey. The results, based on the responses of 494 responding judges, indicate that detected social media use by jurors is infrequent and that most judges have taken steps to ensure jurors do not use social media in the courtroom. The most common strategies are using plain language to explain the reason behind the ban and incorporating social media use into jury instructions—either the model jury instructions provided by CACM or judges’ own personal jury instructions. Judges admit that it is difficult to police jurors. Only 33 judges reported instances of detected social media use by jurors during trial or deliberations. Attorneys’ use of social media to research prospective jurors during voir dire is difficult to detect and quantify; most judges do not know whether attorneys are accessing potential jurors’ social media profiles during voir dire, and most judges do not address the issue with attorneys.