Noted personal injury attorney Laraine Kelley, a senior partner at the law firm Lipsitz Green Scime Cambria, was quoted extensively in a recent Buffalo Law Journal article titled “Lawyers Tap Social Media in Jury Selection Process.” Click here for the article.
Buffalo Law Journal editor and reporter Michael Petro says in the article that, because gathering information about potential jurors is one of the most critical aspects of jury selection, attorneys involved in the process generally want access to every available tool, including social media.
Fortunately for those attorneys, the American Bar Association recently announced its opinion that the use of social media for monitoring and searching in jury selection is acceptable, as long as attorneys are not connecting with potential jurors through these sites. This opinion was preceded in 2012 and 2011 by New York State Bar Association ethics opinions that also approve of the use of social media in jury selection, as long as no connections are made.
Explaining the usefulness of this tool, Ms. Kelley notes that “trying to find six impartial people who will rely only on what they hear in the courtroom and from the advising judge is no small task. There’s no way it can easily be done in the context of jury selection since two complete strangers are communicating to one another in a limited amount of time.”
She continues, “Anything that can get below the surface of an individual is useful information. Doing research via social networks helps attorneys find out how the person views themselves and wishes to be viewed, along with confirming or refuting what people have to say about themselves.”
“Trying to find impartial people is an extremely delicate task,” Ms. Kelley says. “The old-fashioned way was to simply ask people whether they can be fair and impartial. And while some people have enough insight into themselves to recognize bias, most people do not, unless you call it out of them and make them think it through.”
“While info gathered from social networks could prove significant, it’s usually not going to provide more than confirmation of what a potential juror has already told an attorney about their life.” Ms. Kelley continues, “You’re not finding out anything too in-depth unless it’s a person who has strong views that are reflected on their pages, and those people are out there.”
The author notes that Pew Research Center found that 74 percent of Internet users use social networking sites and that usage crosses gender and ethnic backgrounds.
Ms. Kelley concentrates her practice in the area of personal injury law, including medical malpractice, construction accidents, automobile injuries, and products liability. Because her experience and dedication are valuable factors in difficult cases, numerous local attorneys refer their complex litigation matters to Ms. Kelley.