Social media – particularly Facebook and Twitter – can present problems for juries. Jurors might habitually use social media in their daily lives to communicate and being admonished to stay away from Facebook during a trial might be difficult for some jurors.
In a recent informal study of 140 actual jurors from the Northern District of Illinois, 6 respondents reported that they were tempted to use social media during the trial. However, none of those 6 admitted to giving into that temptation.
Of particular concern, one juror responded that “nothing” could have prevented her from using social media during the trial if she had wanted to use it.
The survey’s authors – U.S. District Court Judge Amy St. Eve and her law clerk Michael Zuckerman – recommend that courts “should employ specialized social media instructions at frequent intervals during the trial.” The authors noted that jurors overwhelming listen to judge’s instructions, thus clearly and repeatedly informing jurors that they are to stay away from social media could help “ensure an impartial jury in the age of social media.”