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Can a Lawyer Accept a "Friend" Request from a Juror on Facebook During a Trial?


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8/24/2013
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The answer is "No," and here's why...

During a trial in a medical malpractice case, an accident case or even a wrongful death case, the only time an attorney can talk to jurors is in court and only through testimony and evidence presented in court. The only other time an attorney can speak to jurors is during jury selection when all the attorneys are present.

Lawyers are not to have any direct or indirect contact with any juror during the course of a trial. If for some reason a juror reaches out to an attorney and attempts to make contact with him, he has an ethical duty to do two things:

  1. He must let his adversary know that a juror has attempted to make contact with him outside of the courtroom and
  2. He must let the trial judge know that a juror has tried to initiate communication with the attorney beyond the confines of the courtroom.

Failure to notify the adversary and the trial judge could have serious ethical implications and result in an ethical violation with the grievance committee.

Once the attorney notifies his adversary and the court, the judge will then investigate and likely speak to the juror. The mere attempt to contact an attorney through social media such as with Facebook is something that the jurors should know not to do. Despite introductory warnings by the judge at the beginning of a trial, some jurors ignore such warnings and decide to do their own research online or even reach out to the attorneys by "Friending" them on Facebook.

This is just one way that social media has impacted attorneys and litigants here in New York and how the judicial system must deal with this on an individual basis.



Category: General


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