SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) — Social media accounts are coming under increasing scrutiny from attorneys looking for a legal edge in their respective cases, but a jury expert says that sleuthing could be restricted in the future.

“Attorneys are allowed to go online and look at accounts, but they’re not allowed to ‘friend,’ somebody, or pose as somebody else in order to get access,” Dr. Joseph Rice, President of the Jury Research Institute in Alamo, told KCBS.

He says this whole issue stems from a recent court ruling involving a copyright case between Google and Oracle.

“The whole idea of jury selection is to try to predict behavior, and specifically, is someone likely to favor the plaintiff, or the defendant, or in a criminal case, the prosecutor versus the defendant,” Rice said.

In the ruling, attorneys would have to inform potential jurors in advance of the scope of online sleuthing so they would have a chance to change online private settings once they’ve been notified.

“So what the judge is doing is basically putting everyone on notice, we recognize the attorneys are doing this – we aren’t going to restrict this, but we want the jurors to know that their public postings are available, and could be considered by attorneys,” Rice said.

 

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