News about jurors and social media typically focuses on a juror ignoring use restrictions during trial. However, LAW360 reported on September 27, 2013 that a juror complained the defense cyber-stalked him on LinkedIn. The case was a high-profile Manhattan fraud trial over a Bank of America Corp. unit’s mortgage lending practices. The judge’s order had allowed online searches to look up prospective jurors during the voir dire process, but defense counsel reportedly asked an associate to look up jurors afterward. LinkedIn provides certain customers with an alert telling them who accessed their profile. One jurors received an alert, recognized the name as one of the defense attorneys, and reported it to the judge.
The judge admonished defense counsel, but did not declare a mistrial. He pointed out that it is not uncommon when jurors are being selected that attorneys with the court’s permission will try to gain as much information as they can about potential jurors. In this case, a first-year associate continued this search for information beyond the time permitted. This mistake was not severe enough to throw out the entire jury.
All of us can learn from this mistake. We can gather volumes of information about people through the internet. However, those very people may learn about our investigative efforts, and from that they learn something about us.