Social Media and Its Effects on the Justice System

It is no secret that the world of social media has its own impact on everything in the times we are living in now. But how exactly does social media effect the justice system?

In an article from La Trobe University on social media and fair trial, social media puts the practice of the right to a fair trial at risk. When jurors, for example, use social media and inherit more information, whether it be factual or not, it intervenes with the concepts of open justice and the “opportunity to address all material considered by the jury when reaching its verdict”. Simply put, if a juror is obtaining further information about the case that is not being presented in the court room for all presiding bodies to hear and/or rebut, there is room for the juror’s opinion to be further influenced in ways it may not have previous to them hearing these details.

We are able to see examples of this currently with the case of Johnny Depp v. Amber Heard. In this current case, Depp is suing Heard for $50 million over the defamation of him in a previous article she wrote for The Washington Post in 2018. The article does not mention Depp’s name but alludes to him. In this case, the impact of social media is huge. For starters, because it has to do with a public posting, everyone involved in the case is able to see what the allegations are over. Secondly, because of the publicity that this case has brought, jurors who are on any social media platform are able to see postings about the case that may skew their personal opinions, creating room for bias in the trial and inevitably leading to an unfair judgement of either party.

The inconsideration of social media’s effects on pretrial publicity can have its own constitutional entanglement with the Sixth Amendment. In a defendant’s right to a fair trial, this includes the ability to motion a change of venue due to acts such as pretrial publicity for the possibility of having a biased jury pool. If the court is unwilling to take into consideration that like other biased media, such as the news, social media is also full of opinions thus making the information found on it likely to be untrue and/or biased. Then, it may bring up situations where social media is not considered into media bias, making defendants unable to get their motion for change of venue granted.

The drastic effects that social media has brought with it can not only help those to cultivate, but can hinder the process as well. As social media continues to grow, it only creates a larger impact on not only our personal, everyday lives but our government and justice system as well.

This post is a part of the CIMA Law Group blog. If you are in the Phoenix area looking for aid in criminal defense, personal injury, or immigration, contact CIMA Law Group today to get your worries squared away.

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