I sought the help from fellow journalists in researching a story about social media and its affect on the courts.
I was lucky enough to hear back from John Painter, Jr., a retired Oregonian courts reporter (and, as no one is immune from the process, a seven-time potential juror), who offered me these thoughts on jury selection, the process some lawyers call “pick ‘em and stick ‘em.”
“In my experience as a juror, during voire dire I was bumped from every case but one (both sides had run out of challenges) solely because as a court reporter I knew too much about trials and the trial tactics of both sides.
In my experience as both juror and journalist, I came to several conclusions:
(1) Jurors being questioned routinely lie about their positions on issues they think could get them bumped;
(2) lawyers on both sides harbor deep-seated prejudices about who would make a good and bad juror and the common rationales for bumping certain types of jurors are mostly without real-world foundation, but “blogging” news web sites is a red flag;
(3) lawyers involved in criminal litigation invariably will disqualify any potential jurors with any link to any media (and in this day and age that includes anything dealing with the web);
(4) no expert worth his/her salt can tell you anything substantive about who would be a good or bad juror; humans are just too complicated.”