Paralegal Gateway has an intriguing article about the ethics of googling a juror either during voir dire or later, on the attorneys’ own time or during breaks. It’s a fascinating aspect of jurisprudence.
Personally I think it is a great idea. I think in all three Enron trials (Corporate, Broadband, Nigerian Barge), the official records show a very unambiguous bias against the defendants. In many cases, potential jurors would say they hated Enron defendants for what they did, but then promised the judge they could be fair and impartial jurors. After the Skilling / Lay trial, one juror said that she wanted to serve on the jury because she “wanted to know why they did it.” Not *if* they had done anything all, but why they did *it* – whatever the “it” was in her head, and almost certainly not the “it” written inside the four corners of the indictment.
Imagine if the attorneys had been able to Google them and see if they had a record of Enron-hating all over the internet. Or if they’d found out something else that would have given them cause to dismiss a juror instead of trusting that they could be fair and impartial even while proclaiming their hatred of the defendant.
Wouldn’t it be awesome if I were called to be a juror on Rex Shelby’s or James Brown’s or Jeff Skilling’s next jury? If that happens you can be sure I will delete this blog faster than you can say, “Not guilty,” and I will do the reverse of what the other jurors did: say I can be biased against the defendants, if only I might serve.
And then I’ll bat my eyelashes sweetly and try not to look like the cat that ate the canary.