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Courts and Social Media: What do Judges and Court Workers Think?

NCJ Number
Patrick Keyzer; Jane Johnston; Mark Pearson; Sharon Rodrick; Anne Wallace
Date Published
July 2013
5 pages
Based on information solicited from 62 key stakeholders in the field of judicial administration in New South Wales (Australia), the current study identifies the issues that merit further research and consideration as the courts navigate the social media environment.
This report lists 20 issues identified in ranked order, and the top 6 are discussed in this report. The top ranked concern is juror misuse of social media and digital media leading to aborted trials. The second ranked issue is the breach of suppression orders by tweets, Facebook, or other social media that "go viral," and the difficulties linked with the enforcement of restraining orders. The third ranked concern is the increased risk of cyber-stalking/opportunities for the invasion of privacy or intimidation/bullying of the private lives of court case participants, including victims, jurors, judges, and court workers. The fourth issue identified is the misrepresentation of court work and activity to a community that may not understand the processes or issues involved/rapid spread of misinformation about trial processes and courts. The fifth-ranked concern is the disclosure of information to witnesses or others who are waiting outside or inside court. The sixth-ranked concern is difficulty in testing authenticity and credibility of social media journalism/lack of certification or social media publications. Not all of the stakeholder responses were negative about social media, however. It is also viewed as a potential means of educating judges, court staff, the public, and the media about the work of the courts. The 62 stakeholders included in the study were judges, magistrates, tribunal members, court workers, court public information officers, and academics working in the field of judicial administration.