Lawyers should use caution when researching jurors online

A new NYC Bar opinion condones social media research, but warns against inadvertent communication

In an age when one Tweet can cause a mistrial, it’s no surprise that lawyers want to keep tabs on jurors’ online communications. But a new ethics report from the New York City Bar Association warns attorneys to proceed with caution when viewing jurors’ social media profiles.

The formal opinion, issued Monday, says lawyers can research prospective or sitting jurors on social networking sites, “as long as no communication occurs between the lawyer and the juror as a result of the research.” It sounds simple, but the decree comes with plenty of caveats, as even inadvertent contact between lawyers and jurors could constitute forbidden communication.

Alanna Byrne

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