Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Judges and the Internet - Research via Social Networking

By John DiMotto
The vast "social network" (ie twitter, facebook, etc.) that is open to everyone is more that just a vehicle to socialize with friends, past and present. For judges, depending on who we friend or follow, it can provide a wealth of information that we can use in our everyday "judicial lives."
On twitter, I "follow" a number of individuals who post articles and papers on issues related to jury selection, jury service and trials. Dr. SunWolf -- "Jury Talk," Dr. Rita Handrich -- "The Jury Expert," Julie Campanini -- "trialinsights," Dr. Dennis Elias -- "Jury Vox," Online Legal News, Blawgreview, The Wisconsin Law Journal, and Anne Reed, my good friend and one of my court commissioners do a terrific job of providing fascinating and thought provoking information that I can and do use in my everyday work. Based on information I have gleaned from their work, I have modified my preliminary jury instruction regarding the "Conduct of Jurors" in order to stress the utmost importance that jurors selected for a case not engage in any efforts to secure information on their own to help them decide their case.
On facebook, I have a number of "friends" who post articles they have found dealing with legal issues that I have found helpful in my approach to my work. Judge Daniel Anderson, Judge Dennis Cimpl and Judge Richard Sankovitz have found fascinating articles from various and sundry newspapers (New York Times, Washington Post, Boston Globe, etc.) as well as legal websites such as law.com which provide information on issues that come up in court every day. Furthermore, these articles direct me to other sources for additional information.
The social networks that are open to all of us have their own "road" on the vast superhighway that is the internet. People that we judges friend and follow can provide us with "maps" to assist us in researching the challenging issues we confront on a daily basis.

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