How you can read a juror's mind at your next trial in Kingston, New York

You might overhear a trial lawyer brag about how he can read a juror's mind.  Don't buy any of it!  But what can you do at your next trial to read a juror's mind? Trialsmith, a plaintiff's advocacy group based in Austin, Texas, provides an answer for you. 

How to can learn the nitty-grit about a prospective juror at your next trial

As part of a standard membership, Trialsmith offers in-depth juror reports through a program known as "Jurysmith" as long as you provide the prospective juror's name, zip code of residence and the year of their birth.  Within minutes of entering a prospective juror's name in Jurysmith, you are provided background on the potential juror, including voting history (elections and primaries), registered status of voter (Democrat or Republican), federal and state political donations with the amount of each donation and the year of the donation, property ownership, real property values from county tax assessor records, education level, history of all residences, national criminal records, employment status and length of time with employer, history of bankruptcy and liens, and social media reports (sorry, no Twitter yet).  You can even view panoramic views of the juror's residence with photogaphs provided by Google Maps.

Jurysmith scours social media sites for publicly accessible information, including Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn and blogs such as Wordpress.  Facebook has 500 million users worldwide, with half connecting to the network on a daily basis.  People post more freely on Facebook than they ever would during jury selection in a courtroom.  If a person as a privacy setting on their Facebook account, only friends of that person can see what he is posting. However, if no privacy setting has been established, anyone can access the prospective juror's Facebook profile, which may include his likes, dislikes and views.

Real-Life Examples of Social Media Posts by Jurors that you won't believe

Want to see how this works?  In the jury selection of the criminal trial of Casey Anthony, a 25-year old Florida woman accused of murdering her daughter, one potential juror tweeted, "Cops in Florida are idiots and completely useless."  Another juror posted the jury instructions on his Facebook page. 

Even better, in November, 2010, a juror in a death penalty case tweeted after getting selected for jury selection, "OMG! jdg picked me 2 decide doods f8! Looks gil-t from here." Translation, "Oh my God, judge picked me to decide dude's fate! Looks guilty from here." In a personal injury lawsuit, jurors might use Facebook photographs to disprove the extent of the injuries. Still think social media searches for potential jurors are a waste of your time?

With any web browser and internet access, you can scour the social media sites of prospective jurors within minutes during jury selection.  If your courtroom does not have a wireless network, you can ask someone in your office to check the social media sites of jurors remotely from the office.  Another option is to hire a trial consulting firm, such a DecisionQuest, which offers a social media monitoring service to lawyers.

Why is social media so important during jury selection?

It's real simple: potential jurors often lie during questioning.  Other potential jurors are reluctant to share candid views about their biases out of fear that their views will not be approved by others. Although all jurors have their own unique biases and prejudices (and in most cases, I'm not talking about racial or ethnic prejudices), 19 out of 20 will answer "yes" when asked whether they can be "fair and impartial to all sides" (what a crappy question for eliciting real information).

With social media at your disposal, you can find out what is really going on inside the prospective juror's mind.  You can analyze and review personal information about potential jurors, which they would never share with your during jury selection.  Facebook and Twitter are a goldmine for lawyers during jury selection.

If you request the jurors' questionnaires before the trial, you can get background data on the potential jurors even before the jury selection begins.  Before you begin questioning the prospective jurors, you will have detailed background reports for each juror in the jury pool with photographs of their house, political donations, voting history and party affiliation. How great is that?

What you can do if you have questions

If you want more information or just want to chat, I welcome your phone call on my toll-free cell at 1-866-889-6882 or you can send me an e-mail at [email protected]