Thursday, March 31, 2011

Fox 12: Facebook Changing Justice System

Fox 12 has done a report on Facebook and how it is being used by the justice system. Portland criminal defense attorney John Henry Hingson and I were interviewed. Here are some excerpts from their report. Click on the photo or here for the full report.

Clatsop County Courtroom #1
 Marquis: The social media, particularly Facebook, have opened up a whole new area. It's rarely a smoking gun kind of thing where the person says, 'I think all prosecutors are stinkers' or 'I don't think the death penalty is right,' or something like that. It's going to be more subtle.  It may be information that the juror doesn't want to disclose or that would be awkward to talk about.  If I were to go on Facebook and find out that a juror is Friends with ten people that we're constantly prosecuting, that would be a problem.

Hingson: It gives you a more in-depth feel for who a person is. What their interests are, possible biases, prejudices maybe. Their likes, dislikes.

Marquis: If you google my name, probably 10 to 15 percent are horrible, dreadful things that are said anonymously about me.

Hingson: A lot of people put things on Facebook because they just want to do it. Sometimes they're totally unjust. Sometimes it's very, very revealing as to who they are about a human being. I want to know as much about that person as I can so that I can make an intelligent decision as to whether or not to accept that person as a juror on a jury. You have knowingly exposed to the public what you have said, done or taken pictures of, and there is no invasion of privacy there whatsoever.

But would either of us Friend a prospective juror?
Marquis: Absolutely not. That would cross the line into intruding into someone's privacy. That's going too far.
Hingson: I would stay away from that like Count Dracula stays away from the sunshine. No way, no contact.