Want to Get Out of Jury Duty? Post Something 'Strident' to Facebook

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Lawyers have begun to use major social networking sites like Facebook to track down information about potential jurors. While some might see this as a perversion of the legal system's long-held principles about jury selection, I say you should use this to your advantage.

The Wall Street Journal reports that one potential juror got bounced because he had "strident opinions on a host of issues, and dispensed unsolicited medical and sex advice." First thought: if that's all it takes to get out of jury duty, who among us will be left to serve? Second thought: there'll be no more bowing and scraping before a judge hoping to squeeze out of duty. Simply post some strong opinions about the cops and push those privacy settings to exhibitionist.

Facebook is increasingly being used in courts to decide who is--and who isn't--suitable to serve on a jury, the latest way in which the social-networking site is altering the U.S. court system.

Prosecution and defense lawyers are scouring the site for personal details about members of the jury pool that could signal which side they might sympathize with during a trial. They consider what potential jurors watch on television, their interests and hobbies, and how religious they are.

Read the full story at the Wall Street Journal.

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Alexis C. Madrigal

Alexis Madrigal is the deputy editor of TheAtlantic.com. He's the author of Powering the Dream: The History and Promise of Green Technology. More

The New York Observer has called Madrigal "for all intents and purposes, the perfect modern reporter." He co-founded Longshot magazine, a high-speed media experiment that garnered attention from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and the BBC. While at Wired.com, he built Wired Science into one of the most popular blogs in the world. The site was nominated for best magazine blog by the MPA and best science website in the 2009 Webby Awards. He also co-founded Haiti ReWired, a groundbreaking community dedicated to the discussion of technology, infrastructure, and the future of Haiti.

He's spoken at Stanford, CalTech, Berkeley, SXSW, E3, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and his writing was anthologized in Best Technology Writing 2010 (Yale University Press).

Madrigal is a visiting scholar at the University of California at Berkeley's Office for the History of Science and Technology. Born in Mexico City, he grew up in the exurbs north of Portland, Oregon, and now lives in Oakland.

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