There are times to friend people on Facebook and times not to. One of the times to refrain should include when you are on a jury and you want to be Facebook friends with the defendant:
Jurors and defendants are not meant to be friends — even if it’s just Facebook friends.
Four charges of contempt of court probably drilled this point home for 22-year-old Jonathan Hudson of Arlington, Texas. While on jury duty, Hudson sent a Facebook friend request to the female defendant in the case.
He was dismissed from the proceedings following the friend request, as well as for posting case information on his profile. Afterwards, he contacted the defendant through a Facebook message to apologize…
His lawyer told the paper the mistake was “a reflection of the times.”
I’m sure someone could develop a defense for this: being Facebook friends isn’t the same kind of friendship that might compromise a decision in a court case. But that then gets into the interesting area of what exactly it means to be a friend on Facebook.
If this is a “reflection of the times,” it suggests people have difficulty knowing when using newer technologies, like Facebook or texting, is appropriate. The courtroom is probably one of the more conservative institutions where it takes some time to change behavior norms. Would Facebook ever be incorporated into courtroom and trial behavior? What if jurors had electronic devices that they could use to interact with each other as they are hearing cases?