Judge reignites debate over researching jurors online
SAN FRANCISCO - Mining prospective jurors' Facebook, Twitter and other social media accounts is common practice for many attorneys looking to spot biases that might cost their clients a fair trial.
But a federal judge's ruling earlier this year in a copyright battle between Silicon Valley heavy weights Oracle and Google has reignited debate about the practice and its effect on jurors' privacy.
U.S. District Court Judge William Alsup in a March order told attorneys for Google and Oracle they could research the jury panel, but would have to inform it in advance of the scope of the online sleuthing and give the potential jurors a chance to change online privacy settings.
Otherwise, they had to agree to forego the searches.
Alsup raised concerns about juror privacy.
But some legal experts say the judge's concerns are overblown.