The rise of social media has created new challenges for the administration of justice, Senior Associate Dean Daniel Filler said in an article in The Morning Call of Allentown on June 22.
While jurors have long been told to avoid media coverage of cases they’re deciding, not to conduct research on the parties involved or to discuss the matter with family or friends, widespread use of social media has made it harder to insulate jurors from sources of potential bias, Filler said.
"With social media, one of the challenges that differentiates it from talking to a spouse and Internet research is that people are so addicted to constant streaming of information, they don't even know how to detach themselves," Filler said.
Facebook or twitter posts announcing a person has been picked for a jury can prompt responses that could color the juror’s perspective, Filler said.
The article noted that a federal appeals court recently directed federal judges in Connecticut, New York and Vermont to provide daily instructions to jurors not to communicate with anyone about cases or their jury service via social media.
An expert on criminal law, Filler was appointed to the Pennsylvania Advisory Committee on Capital Punishment in 2012.