Saturday, October 2, 2010

Social Media in Court

The Conference of Court Information Officers conducted a nationwide study of how social media affects the administration of justice: New Media and the Courts: The Current Status and a Look at the Future (Aug. 26, 2010). It discusses these media:

  • social media profile sites (Facebook, Myspace, et al.)
  • microblogging (e.g., Twitter)
  • smart phones, tablets, and notebooks
  • monitoring and metrics
  • news sharing (blogs, RSS feeds, etc.)
  • visual media sharing (YouTube, Flickr, etc.)
  • wikis

Some of the findings (lifted from the executive summary, pp. 9-10):

  • About 40 percent of responding judges reported they are on social media profile sites, the majority of these on Facebook. This is almost identical to the percentage of the adult U.S. population using these sites.

  • Judges who are appointed and do not stand for re-election were much less likely to be on social media profile sites. About 9 percent from non-elected jurisdictions reported they were on these sites.

  • Nearly half of judges (47.8 percent) disagreed or strongly disagreed with the statement "Judges can use social media profile sites, such as Facebook, in their professional lives without compromising professional conduct codes of ethics."

  • Judges appear to be more comfortable with using these sites in their personal lives, . . .

  • More than half (56 percent) of judges report routine juror instructions that include some component about new media use during the trial.

  • A very small fraction of courts (6.7 percent) currently have social media profile sites like Facebook; 7 percent use microblogging sites like Twitter; and 3.2 percent use visual media sharing sites like YouTube.

  • A smaller proportion of judges than might be expected (9.8 percent) reported
    witnessing jurors using social media profile sites, microblogging sites, or smart
    phones, tablets or notebooks in the courtroom.

  • Almost all (97.6 percent) respondents agree that judges and court employees should be educated about appropriate new media use and practices.

Prof. Anita Ramasastry has written commentaries on Findlaw about many aspects of social media in the courts:

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