The Casey Anthony trial was the first high-profile murder case to take place in the social media realm. The blogosphere went haywire; tweets and posts around the country were trending anything related to Casey Anthony. We saw the posts, even sent out a few tweets about the topic ourselves, but what did the defense think about all of the social media action? Some argue that they made their case based on it.
Prior to the trial, Amy Singer was hired by the defense (pro-bono) to help with the jury selection process and consultation during the trial. According to an article from Law.com, Singer was quoted saying that “the whole trial was social-media driven.”
Singer and her team searched thousands of blogs and posts before and during the trial to find out “what was annoying people about Anthony”. They wanted to hear the important negative comments so the defense could address the issues in their arguments.
For example, as soon as the bloggers and tweeters developed an opinion about George Anthony, Singer encouraged the defense to dig more information up and put him in the spotlight. The thought here was that if the public had such an agreed consensus towards certain evidence or topics, the jury may share the same thoughts.
The jury selection was very critical in this case, and according to some the trial was over after the jury was selected. The defense’s ideal juror was “bright and intelligent” and if they were talking about Casey Anthony, they were talking about the facts; i.e mentioning Caylee’s skull being found in a field as opposed to Casey’s alleged party girl persona.
Needless to say, all the posts, blogs and tweets involving anything to do with Casey Anthony were analyzed by the defense and taken into account for the development of the case. And for what it’s worth, the defense team did a proficient job using that information to help back the case.
Is social media another expertise that should be developed by criminal defense attorneys? Florida A&M professor Shiv Persaud thinks so.
“It definitely might become a part of my curriculum in trial practice. We could benefit from a new type of tool we didn’t have before.”