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Sunday, July 22, 2012

Social Media and the Legal System - Another Story of the Tortoise and the Hare?

Not this Time as Judge Declares Mistrial in a First-Degree Murder Trial, a Direct Result of Social Media

There is no question that social media has turned business and quite frankly, the way we communicate as individuals, on its head!  And while I would like to think that people have embraced this new world and accepted social media, sadly this is not the case.  I still hear conversations from people whom I consider learned and influential pronouncing that social media is a fad.  Really?  Seriously?  I know that they aren't monitoring social media, but really just pick up any newspaper or turn on any traditional news agency and social media is being discussed as a viable force that is disrupting business operations in both negative and very positive ways.

Perhaps one of the most important areas to change is our legal system.  Traditional to its core, the legal system is a behemoth culture and world of its own.  Fundamentally conservative, it is slow to change and react, which actually has been good.  Not one to overreact with the need to ensure that both legislation and policies are fare and unbiased, this has served the legal system and our citizens well.  True to its reputation however, social media is disrupting our legal system as well.  It might be time for legislators to learn that they need to move at the speed of social so that they are protecting the innocent and establishing fair and inclusive laws that respect its citizens.

On July 18, 2012, a Moncton, New Brunswick judge declared a mistrial in the first-degree murder trial after learning that one of the jurors had been a member of a Facebook Group against the man on trial. 

What went wrong?  Why wasn't this found during the jury selection process?  Simple questions like:  Do you have any social networking profiles?  If so, have you ever participated in or belonged to any social network or group associated with the victim or the accused in this crime?  Such questions would have raised the issue immediately and would have resulted in that particular person not being selected as juror. 

Thankfully this occurred early in the process, but that is still not a comfort for the victim's family.  This is but one example where the legal system has to understand the implications of social media and its limitless use.  They need to actually start using social media and have the right resources in place to guide them through this vast sea.  In this case, moving at the speed of social is imperative for our policy and legislative professionals.

Do you agree this our legal system needs to move at the speed of social?  In this case they shouldn't be the tortoise?

Interested in learning more about social media?  Be sure to check out the  TheOstrich Effect

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