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Blog Post 1 – Using “Big Data” in Jury Selection

The topic of my first blog post is the possible future trend of using “Big Data” in jury selection. “Big Data” is the moniker given to the process of analyzing and collecting vast amount of data from generally inconspicuous sources. Big Data companies routinely mine social media, consumer responses in addition to buying the data from other companies. Recently, some have speculated about the application of Big Data analytics to the voir dire process. (For a more in depth look at the issue, abajournal.com recently published an article that is worth looking at. It is available at http://www.abajournal.com/magazine/article/big_data_improve_jury_system)

There are many potential benefits to applying Big Data Analytics to the jury selection process. Chiefly, it would allow juries to more closely represent their populations. It also would be helpful at eliminating sexism, racism, or other bigotry from the jury pool. A Lawyer who is able to effectively utilize (and afford) the information provided by a Big Data analysis gains a competitive advantage over her/his data-less adversary in that the informed attorney is more likely to select the jurors who will view the case favorably. A recent blog post on thecyberadvocate.com takes a generally positive stance on using Big Data in voire dire. That post can be found at http://www.thecyberadvocate.com/2016/05/10/what-big-data-can-tell-you-about-your-jury-pool/.

However, there are significant drawbacks with allowing lawyers to use data-driven insights to select jury members. Primarily, privacy is a concern. Considering the vast scope of the information that Big Data companies can and do gather, it is possible that the individual jurors could feel that their privacy rights were violated. This is predominantly a policy concern because (for the most part) the data collection has been performed legally.

Another concern is how the application of Big Data will effect the fairness of voire dire. If Big Data proves to be effective at increasing favorable outcomes, it might severely disadvantage those litigants who can not afford it. Similarly to the currently utilized practice of jury consultants, Big Data analysis isn’t cheap and so it is typically only employed by litigants with means. However, unlike using jury consultants, many proponents of the technology hope that as the use of Big Data becomes more common, the cost will continue to decrease.

-Jarod Garel