submitted 1 month ago by [email protected] to c/nostupidquestions

I have old Facebook and Twitter accounts, maybe some others. I'm old so there's a MySpace account out there. But I've mostly been using reddit the last decade or so, and have migrated to Lemmy. Now, Lemmy is the only social media i use. Recent news got me thinking about this question.

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[-] [email protected] 54 points 1 month ago* (last edited 1 month ago)

Good answers here, but ignoring probably the most realistic and practical truth of the matter in my opinion.

You won't immediately be sent to the stocks for saying "I don't want to answer", the worst case scenario is that some officer of the court informs you that you must answer the question even if you don't want to. And even that is only going to happen if the attorney asking the question insists. And I struggle to imagine a situation where a competent attorney would do so.

Being hostile towards your prospective jurors, making them feel exposed and uncomfortable, is not a way to march to victory in a trial. They want to ensure you aren't prejudiced against their client/case. Making you dislike them personally IS prejudice. Causing prejudice is a bad way to eliminate prejudice.

They will ask questions, mostly yes/no ones, that you need to answer honestly. They may ask for clarification. If you don't want to answer and say so, it's unlikely anyone will press you because that unnwillingness to answer is just as clear an indication of who you are as anything else.

[-] [email protected] 19 points 1 month ago

Causing prejudice is a bad way to prevent predjudice

I laughed and now people are staring at me.

[-] BertramDitore 3 points 1 month ago

This is really helpful, thanks.

[-] setsneedtofeed 2 points 1 month ago* (last edited 1 month ago)

This seems correct. A judge (generally, without looking into all local rules) could technically rule that you are compelled to answer, and then continuing to refuse could lead to a contempt of court charge.

But the whole point of the process is to find a suitable juror, so if interacting with a potential juror is like pulling teeth in voir dire, the most practical solution seems to be dismissal by the judge so everyone can move along.

[-] [email protected] 48 points 1 month ago

What exactly is the legal definition of "social media" anyway?

Personally I don't consider lemmy or reddit to be social media, they're more like several forums in a trench-coat.

[-] [email protected] 15 points 1 month ago

Yeah, that term has gotten overly broad. I like to separate it into two groups. Personal social media, where you use your real name and stuff, and (for lack of a better term) anonymous social media, where you just use some screen name. If anything you post a comment in is social media most news sites are social media. The term needs to be reigned in and I think should only apply to the personal variety.

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[-] BrerChicken 36 points 1 month ago

Nobody was being asked for their social media credentials, it's not like you have to give them full access. What happened was that the attorneys looked the jurors up and went through their old posts, all stuff that was publicly available. One of the jurors they dismissed posted a picture of people celebrating Biden's election win, and that was enough to show that they were biased.

[-] mojofrododojo 4 points 1 month ago

and that was enough to show that they were biased.

no, it was enough to show that they MAY be biased. The juror in question thought the event was in celebration of caregivers.

not sure if you're deliberately distorting the truth or just uninformed but either way... classy.

[-] solrize 35 points 1 month ago

Absolutely not. If asked, just refuse to answer, don't lie. But, I've been summoned a few times and they've never asked about that, so far.

[-] [email protected] 23 points 1 month ago

I just want to add, that this is completely hypothetical. I was just fantasizing about slipping onto Trump's jury.

[-] [email protected] 42 points 1 month ago

There are much easier ways to get a lifetime of death threats.

[-] [email protected] 13 points 1 month ago

But, would it be worth it?

[-] [email protected] 11 points 1 month ago

Yea, I'd still volunteer. Honestly, serving on a jury judging Trump you'd be contributing to the preservation of democracy in a more significant way than pretty much anyone else.

So uh... for managed democracy and super earth!

[-] [email protected] 3 points 1 month ago

Those feelings are the sort of thing that would get you disqualified from the jury.

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[-] Rhynoplaz 8 points 1 month ago

I'd be right there with you. ✊

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[-] [email protected] 18 points 1 month ago

How would that be enforced?

[-] Reddfugee42 2 points 1 month ago

If the court asks you to provide it and you don't, you can go in jail pretty much indefinitely under contempt of court.

[-] mojofrododojo 4 points 1 month ago

please post a precedent for this, citation requested.

[-] Reddfugee42 3 points 1 month ago* (last edited 1 month ago)

Sure thing.

Under Rule 37 of the FRCP, a deponent's failure to answer can also be treated as contempt of court. Direct contempt of court is punishable without trial.

Punitive contempt of court actions serve as a punishment and can include a jail sentence of up to 6 months

Remedial contempt of court actions place the individual into jail until such time as they agree to remedy a situation

A 73-year-old Philadelphia lawyer walked out of prison July 10, 2009 after serving 14 years for contempt of court -- the longest term ever served for contempt.

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[-] [email protected] 15 points 1 month ago

Can't you just politely decline and then they relieve you from duty? Or can they coerce you into doing a digital striptease for them?

[-] Ultragigagigantic 15 points 1 month ago


Tired of the constant erosion of civil liberties. This ain't civilization

[-] AgentGrimstone 15 points 1 month ago
[-] [email protected] 13 points 1 month ago* (last edited 1 month ago)

Disclaimer: Not a US citizen, but I think the reporting threshold is similar.

So, I recently applied for a bunch of US work visas as part of my job. C1/D, B1, and B2 to be precise. (Mostly to get my TWIC for easy port entry, honestly). And part of the process involved listing my social media accounts.

I don't use my Facebook anymore, and my lemmy (and then reddit) account isn't really significant. Beyond those, the only one with my name on it is my LinkedIn, which does in fact hilight an aspect of my job that shows why the above mentioned visas would be useful for me. So I ended up only listing my linkedin.

Visas approved. I don't think anyone cares hard enough to actually check unless your name is Daddy Al-Baddy

[-] [email protected] 13 points 1 month ago* (last edited 1 month ago)

Legally, wouldn't you have to?

When you're answering the questionnaire, you're already sworn-in and under oath, so I would assume you'd legally have to. Not sure what the penalty would be, though, but I'm not really interested in finding out.

I guess they'd also have to prove it's yours, though. Still, even though I use a pseudo-anonymous name online, I don't post anything I wouldn't want my real name next to.

Edit: OTOH, you could probably refuse to answer which would likely get you dismissed. IANAL, though. The last time I was summoned for jury duty, they didn't ask about social media accounts or anything like that. Just a few questions that would have indicated whether I could be impartial.

[-] [email protected] 14 points 1 month ago

That feels like a privacy issue, maybe related to the topic of whether or not they can force you to unlock your phone? I don't know where the current law is on that.

[-] [email protected] 6 points 1 month ago* (last edited 1 month ago)

Yeah, that's why I added that bit at the bottom. You could probably safely decline to answer, but they'd likely dismiss you for that. Which, if you just want out of jury duty, may be a way to do it lol. Either way, you should definitely not lie and say "no".

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[-] setsneedtofeed 3 points 1 month ago* (last edited 1 month ago)

From the thread comments, I believe OP is asking about giving up social media between the summons and the selection as a means to more likely end up on a jury.

Attorneys might ask about past social media use and you are supposed to tell the truth. I don’t feel comfortable with people scrubbing their social media history and then lying to the court about what may or may not have been on it, which is the undertone I’m getting in the thread.

In a higher profile case, bigger and more expensive attorney teams will probably spend more time and effort to snoop on prospective jurors, on lower profile cases attorneys will probably just ask jurors questions and look at their answer forms.

[-] morphballganon 8 points 1 month ago

The court has more important things to do than inquire about your internet history, and you'd have to be a moron to bring up the subject.

Why would they ask about social media at all?

[-] mean_bean279 22 points 1 month ago

Somehow I feel like you haven’t read the news in the last 72 hours…

[-] TropicalDingdong 6 points 1 month ago

Man it must be nice to live in wherever bubble @morphballganon is in.

[-] JustZ 3 points 1 month ago

I don't know either. I don't do any TV news. There must more important things going on than jury selection in loser Trump's case. That said, what happened with this social media jury thing?

[-] TropicalDingdong 2 points 1 month ago


It's the first criminal prosecution of a US President, ever.

Like it's never happened before. So from a history, unique event perspective there is that.

But also, yeah it's like totally non news for one person to be in the jury selection process for a trial.

The news is that Court room reporters via Fox were basically doing jurors.

[-] JustZ 2 points 1 month ago

All good points.

Oh, doxing. Yeah. The conservative media machine doesn't sleep on one inch. They have unlimited money, labor, tech, and time. Their goal is to make public service work contentious and adversarial, and stop government from working, especially on things like registrars of voters, boards of education, and of course jury service.

Of course that was going to be an issue in this case. Need to start treating interference with government service as a serious crime.

[-] BertramDitore 6 points 1 month ago

Because it’s in everyone’s best interest that people with overt bias are dismissed. In high profile cases it’s standard practice for both sides to do pretty intensive research on individual prospective jurors (they get a list), and that often includes scouring the web for their social media accounts. If they find something you posted, and you didn’t disclose your account when asked, you could be in trouble.

I don’t think it’s usually standard to ask specifically about social media accounts, at least in normal mundane cases, but in a crazy case like this, it can say a lot about a person’s ability to be impartial.

[-] TropicalDingdong 4 points 1 month ago

Why would they ask about social media at all?

[-] BertramDitore 7 points 1 month ago

I was just about to ask this same question in a different thread. I’m in a similar situation, in that Lemmy is the only social media I use (Reddit before the API crap), but I’ve never used my real name. I’d happily own all my comments, but the point of an anonymous account is that I don’t have to. I guess when you’re under oath it doesn’t matter, you have to truthfully answer the question that’s asked.

[-] [email protected] 4 points 1 month ago

What if you are a heavy social media user, and the person on trial is a heavy social media user? Should they not get a jury of their peers?

[-] TechNerdWizard42 4 points 1 month ago

Don't give anything. It can disqualify you, but this is no different than asking your grandma for her diary before they let her sit a jury.

[-] [email protected] 3 points 1 month ago

Thanks for the participation everyone!

My conclusion is that the question is moot. You most likely won't be asked to give up your entire social media activity. But you can be asked about the content if it's relevant to the case.

Perjury is serious beyond the penalties, and i solemnly swear that i had no intentions of doing so.

[-] [email protected] 3 points 1 month ago

Answering the question in chronological order, during the voir dire portion of the jury selection process, jury candidates would be asked a battery of questions by the parties to the case, plus by the judge, to determine if the candidates can be sufficiently impartial as jurors. Some qualities are -- legally speaking -- so inherently prejudicial that a juror could not sit on the jury, such as being a active judge in a different court. Other qualities are potentially prejudicial, such as if a candidate is a police officer and the case is about police brutality.

For a case where social media evidence will play a large part, the parties may not want a juror that is keenly familiar with memes and the latest online trends. The lawyers would be permitted to ask about social media use, and could remove the candidate if their answer indicates some articulable bias that isn't an illegal category (eg sex, race). Alternatively, they can remove a candidate peremptorily, without describing their reasoning, but the number of these removals is limited.

Since the question supposes that the jury has already been selected, it may have been that the case didn't involve social media or the lawyers and judge didn't ask about it. However, jurors are always asked if they have any reason they cannot be impartial, so jurors would have to speak up if they have any doubts at all, vis-a-vis their anonymous social media accounts.

Still, after the selection process, when the jury is impaneled, they will be asked to avoid seeking out relevant news articles or discussing the case with anyone outside the jury room. This is not as rigorous as sequestration, but this would include avoiding posting on social media about the case. Jurors are usually free to carry on with the rest of their lives, with that in mind.

Thus, to answer the question, an anonymous social media account doesn't need to be "given up", unless it would affect the case somehow. But having such an account is potentially disclosable during the jury selection process. Ideally, the inquiring attorney would simply ask about the nature of the anonymous account, rather than forcing them to out their account.

[-] [email protected] 2 points 1 month ago

can you refuse to answer the question. feels like this is about your personal life. is that required. im fine if they kick me off but I would be mad if I was given contempt for not answering.

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this post was submitted on 18 Apr 2024
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