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Is it appropriate for an attorney who is on trial, to try and “like” or “follow” the jurors on Facebook? Or even Twitter for that matter?

Is it appropriate for an attorney who is on trial, to try and “like” or “follow” the jurors on Facebook? Or even Twitter for that matter?

Imagine this scenario, where the attorney is on trial, he has finished jury selection, and now he has names of six jurors and two alternatives, who are now sitting as jurors on this particular case. Is it appropriate for this attorney, to go home that night, go online, connect to Facebook, try and find each of the jurors, and then attempt to “like” them?

This would be to see their Facebook pages, in an attempt to get into their minds, to know what they have done in the past, to know what kind of interests they have, and to try to determine what their proclivities are. Would this be appropriate?

It is Unethical

From a commonsense standpoint, it is clearly not a smart idea. During the course of trial, an attorney is not supposed to have any contact whatsoever, with the jurors. The attorney cannot even give a perception that he is somehow trying to gain an advantage, or have access to a particular juror, to gain information that the other attorney is not able to access or willing to try to find out or willing to go down that particular route.

However, this attorney can also make the argument that the other side could also do the same thing. The other lawyer could also try and “like” the jurors’ Facebook page in an attempt to see what they have on their pages, who their friends are, and what they have done.

Crossing that Perilous Line

There have been some instances where the attorney is an investigator, or somebody in their law firm is trying to gain information to investigate a particular juror through Facebook. In such an instance, the common consensus is that if you are doing something surreptitiously, and the juror or person who has now being asked to “like” the page or “like” you or befriend you in the course of social media while not truly understanding why you are doing it, then the unethical threshold has been crossed.

Attorneys need to be Careful on Social Media

So the bottom line is that an attorney should not be trying to “friend” a juror on Facebook or any other social media site. Social media has influenced our lives in many ways, and it has affected the lives of attorneys when they file cases in New York. It is common for many people to “like” someone or become somebody’s “friend” on a daily basis through social media sites. It does not really mean they like them or are even their friend!

However, an attorney will have to be more careful about whom he is befriending or liking on social media sites, as the person could turn out to be a juror during the trial. It is possible that the lawyer will not be aware about whom he actually “likes” though that would be rare and careless. But if it is a juror, the other side can make an issue of it, and cause many problems for the case and the attorney. With that said, knowingly, or inadvertently, a lawyer should make sure he does not make any contact with a juror, virtual or otherwise.