Social Media Blog

Social Media: A Judicial Point of View

Posted by on 19 Aug 2013

With the rise in use of social media in court, I have recently pondered what the judicial officers think of the social media boom. Do they consider the intertwining of social media and the law a positive change? Or would they say that the negatives outweigh the positives?

 

A number of academics from universities across Australia recently gathered 62 judges, magistrates, tribunal members, court workers, court public information officers and academics who work in judicial administration to ascertain their point of view on the use of social media. The findings have been published in the latest Judicial Officers’ Bulletin (printed by the Judicial Commission of NSW).

It was interesting to see just how many issues were identified by the judicial officers, many of which I had not considered prior to seeing this research. All in all, 20 issues were identified as problems that social media poses for the courts. Of these 20 issues, the judicial officers were then asked to vote on the 6 most important.

To show you a quick snapshot of the research, here are the top 6 issues:

  1. Juror misuse of social media (and digital media) leading to aborted trials.
  2. Sub judice issues/breach of suppression orders (by tweets, Facebook or other social media), that “go viral”, and the difficulties associated with enforcement of restraining orders.
  3. Increased risk of cyber stalking/opportunities for invasion of privacy or intimidation/bullying of the private lives of court case participants, including victims, jurors, judges and workers.
  4. Misrepresentation of court work and activity to a community that may not understand the processes or issues involved/rapid spread of misinformation about trial processes and courts.
  5. Disclosure of information to witnesses or others waiting outside or inside court.
  6. Difficulty in testing authenticity and credibility of social media journalism/lack of verification of social media publications.

Not all findings were negative and the article does discuss some positive findings. But needless to say, the negatives outweighed the positives.

I found the article to be a great insight into the thoughts of our judicial officers. It sheds light on some issues that the judicial system may need to delve into further and develop ways to combat the problems they may pose.

You can find the article here: http://lawgovpolicy.files.wordpress.com/2013/07/judicial-officers-bulletin-the-courts-and-social-media.pdf

.Norwest and Parramatta team in Digital Media & TechnologyFor more information, please contact our