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If We Strike All The Facebook Jurors, Who's Left?

By: dmc-admin//February 9, 2009//

If We Strike All The Facebook Jurors, Who's Left?

By: dmc-admin//February 9, 2009//

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It’s one thing to understand that jurors might be on Facebook. The next step is to decide what to do when you find out they are.

“Sitting in hell”

If you’re on Facebook yourself, you know that Facebook starts your “status update” for you. Mine starts “Anne Reed is . . . ” and then I’m supposed to finish the sentence.

Anne Reed is happy; Anne Reed is home because school is closed; and so on. (In a fairly recent improvement, you can backspace over the “is” and use another verb if you like. Anne Reed should exercise more, something like that.)

Last week in Cincinnati, says the Cincinnati Enquirer, potential juror Barry Price accessed Facebook from the courthouse. “Barry Price is . . . ,” the update began. “[S]itting in hell . . . aka jury duty,” Price typed, and hit “Update.”

Well-known Cincinnati plaintiff’s lawyer Stan Chesley (at least one news story calls him “torts king”) had a computer in the courthouse too, and he found the update. The next thing Barry Price knew, he was finished with jury duty in Chesley’s personal injury trial; the trial judge granted Chesley’s motion to excuse him. The Enquirer story suggests, but doesn’t clearly say, that it was Price’s negative view of jury service, or at least his willingness to share it on the Internet, that sent him home.

“Jury duty freaking sucks!”

If that’s the rule, we’re in big trouble. If we strike everybody with an I-hate-jury-duty status update somewhere on the Internet, we’re going to run out of jurors really fast.

As I write this, Twitter – a social networking site that’s much like Facebook except it’s nothing but status updates and it’s much less private – contains 108 updates including the phrase “jury duty” in the last eight hours alone. (That’s as far back as my Tweetdeck search goes.) They are, as anyone would guess, overwhelmingly negative. Some of the tamer samples:

  • Yay no jury duty!
  • ugh…I might have to miss class tomorrow, for jury duty :(
  • well I managed to get off jury duty. all I had to do was wear a man-baby outfit.
  • Jury duty freaking sucks! I am so bored…
  • I have jury duty tommorow [sic]- time to turn on the Texan, "I love god, guns, and the e-lectric chair. And I hate liberals. Amen."
  • DAMMIT! I got a jury duty summons. Any suggestions to come off like a raving lunatic are appreciated.

    (I’m not linking these because these folks weren’t counting on being blogged, but if you use a Twitter search engine, they’re there.) Another large fraction of these juror updates isn’t exactly negative, but hardly shows the respect for the process the founding fathers envisioned:

  • Jury duty tomorrow = lunch in Chinatown. And it's for federal court so it's 3 days or one trial. Meaning 3 days of Chinatown lunch. Nice.
  • Jury Duty just got better — free WiFi
  • well, i misplaced the mags! i know i used the jury duty badge as a bookmrk in 1 of them, if i could find those mags. ill look tonite

Yes, there was one who said, “Jury duty is quite an interesting and amazing process. For those who think you'd hate it you might be surprised at how much you learn.” But you’d have to go through an awful lot of Tweets to find her – unless more jurors made it easy, like this juror who collected her jury-duty status updates in a single blog post today. What’s your strategy?

Don’t get me wrong. I suspect Mr. Price’s dismissal was an overreaction, but I doubt Stan Chesley – that’s the plaintiff’s lawyer – overreacted. Mr. Price is described in the Enquirer story as “a systems analyst for Procter & Gamble.” Both the technical job and the Fortune 50 employer would be red flags for most plaintiff’s lawyers in voir dire.

Source note: Both Court-O-Rama and Juries got to this first. Both blogs also have news: Juries has moved from Blogspot to Typepad, so you may have to resubscribe; and happy birthday to Court-O-Rama’s Anne Skove.


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