I-Team: Lawyers Scour Social Media to Pick Jurors - 8 News NOW

Investigative Reporter Jonathan Humbert and Photojournalist Alex Brauer

I-Team: Lawyers Scour Social Media to Pick Jurors

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LAS VEGAS -- You use your Facebook profile or Twitter feed to keep friends and family in the loop in your life. But lawyers may be scouring your likes, favorites and tweets to see if you might be best for their jury.

It is a nationwide trend that may start taking off in Las Vegas, where both sides of the law use your Facebook posts to get you in the jury box.

Both the prosecution and defense say this could be a good way to tip the case in their favor, but it isn't easy. Your favorite band, birthplace and opinion about current events could give them all the information they need.

"Some people might complain about invasion of privacy, but people should have thought of that before they told their life story on Facebook," said UNLV law professor Jeff Stempel.

Stempel says he isn't shocked that both sides of a trial would try to get every piece of information they could to stack a jury.

"The lawyer tries to customize his or her jury to benefit the case as much as possible," he said.

Lawyers can find little nuggets and clues inside the profile to compliment the jury questionnaires already in place. Clark County District Attorney David Roger says his staff doesn't do it, but sees the allure.

"The more information you can gather about people, the better position you are to determine whether or not they're going to be the right jurors for you," he said.

During the O.J. Simpson trial, there was a large focus on the composition of the jury and the type of questions asked. That would have been a perfect time to scout social media.

But in most cases, lawyers are only given a few minutes to scan the jurors -- a small window to glean likes and dislikes.

The real-life Defenders say jury selection is critical.

"You want a juror from the inception who is open to your cause," said attorney Michael Cristalli.

Cristalli and Marc Saggese want to give their clients every advantage.

"Depending on the answer, we explore deeper and deeper and deeper until we really feel comfortable that we know that juror," said Saggese.

They aren't ready to commit to sneaking a look at a profile, but are concerned prosecutors will. It is just another tool in the arsenal, says Stempel.

"You can get a lot of real fast answers about basic traits of a juror that even go beyond the questionnaire," he said.

Someone is going to do it, and it soon may be the best way to win.

While some of the local lawyers are skiddish about hopping online in the middle of jury selection, Stempel says it could backfire. Too much generalization and stereotyping could lead you down the wrong path. Don't look at profiling the profile as a silver bullet, just another way get a jury on your side from the start.

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