BANGOR, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- The American Bar Association's ethics committee has approved attorneys researching a potential juror's social media accounts. This decision would allow an attorney to look at an individual's Facebook, Twitter, or Linkedin accounts. For some attorneys, this will help understand the twelve people who will decide a person's fate.
Defense Attorney Jeff Silverstein said, "Where the process is so stunted in the courtroom, we really only get very limited information. It forces an attorney, I hate to say this, but judge a book by its cover in many ways because we have so little information about these individuals."
The American Bar Association has approved of attorneys viewing or investigating a potential juror's public social media accounts. NEWS CENTER
According to Silverstein, the Maine jury process limits what sort of information can be asked of a juror. During jury selection an attorney can only ask what a potential juror knows of a specific case, if they have any connection to law enforcement, or if they have any deep seeded beliefs which would hinder them in reaching a verdict.
Silverstein said, "Getting on a Facebook account, which is tailored personally by the individual, allows a more greater depth of understanding about what motivates that individual and what that individual is interested in."
The ABA did set guidelines for this type of investigation. An attorney can only look at information that is public, this means they can not send an individual a friend request or request to connect. They can, however, look at a person's account even if the social media site will alert the person of how viewed it. For example, on Linkedin the site allows users to see who recently viewed their profile.