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Sunday, September 2, 2012

Social Media, Our Legal System and Common Sense Please

I recently wrote a post entitled "Social Media and the Legal System - Another Story of the Tortoise and the Hare?"  The post focused on a mistrial in a murder case after it had been discovered that a juror had been active in conversations on a social media site, that openly discussed the guilt of the person on trial.   While a very unfortunate situation, there are some very simple questions that could have been asked, and hopefully are being asked now, in the jury selection process to avoid a mistrial.  These questions are outlined in that post. 

This week however, I read a blog post on The Social Graf that left me speechless.  It is one thing for our legislative and legal systems, which are large institutions in themselves steeped in tradition, to move at the speed of social and/or fully understand the disruptive nature of social media, but this post takes the cake. 

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I have always believed that the common sense is not always common sense. What I mean by this, is that while I think that it is common sense to put my seat belt on when I get into a car, not everyone thinks that way.  Apparently, it is the same when it comes to communications and social media.  According to The Social Graf, judges are now having to explicitly list social media channels and brand names of mobile devices to help jurors understand that they can not speak about the case on these channels or while using these devices.

To me, the instruction to not speak or communicate about a case with anyone in any form, while on jury duty is pretty straight forward.  You just don't do it.  You don't speak, write, sign, act or draw pictures about the case.  There is a sense of integrity, moral and ethical conscience associated with being a juror.  You are there to bring about a course of justice based on the facts presented.  There is a process to follow and not following the process can result in innocent people - victims and families of victims - being harmed. 

I don't believe that social media is the cause of this phenomenon.  There is something else that is taking place that has further skewed the common sense meter.  What that something else is, I don't know.  If you know, please share.

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