Jury selection services are services more common in the United States jurisdictions than other, common law countries. However as social media and other digital activity makes the ability to ascertain the suitability of potential jurors the demand for such services has increased.
In New Zealand a barrister and private investigator have this week launched a new jury selection services company designed to tips the scales back in favour of the defense.
Jury Selection Services undertakes a “passive review” of the digital footprint of potential jurors using both manual and electronic checking of jurors.
There may however be legal and ethical challenges for the service, although co-founder Barrister Stephen Iorns believes they can be readily dealt with.
Ethical requirements mean lawyers cannot contact potential jurors prior to a verdict.
“In my view, as long as there is zero chance of a juror becoming aware of our search, there is nothing untoward. To the contrary, we are given their information and the ability to challenge with cause. Once a potential juror publishes information on the internet, it is public.
“Arguably, there is a duty on counsel to at least look. While the party who is not equipped with the best information may cry foul, we do not act exclusively for defence or prosecution, plaintiff or defendant. Theoretically, they could both engage us.”
Although there are some such services operating in the UK, it is unclear whether they are used in Australia although the new firm’s operators will be looking at the Australian market.