Guest post by Jennifer K. Halford, Esq.
Attorneys may use social media websites to research jurors as long as they do not have any communication with the juror, the New York City Bar Association recently announced in its ethics opinion 2012-2.
Social media can be a great tool for attorneys. Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites can reveal information about potential jurors. It can also help you monitor for signs of misconduct during trials.
The key is that no ex parte "communication" can occur as a result of your research. There are some obvious no-no's, like requesting to "friend" a juror on Facebook or chatting or messaging with jurors. But a "communication" has a much broader definition through social media, as the opinion points out.
You can conduct Internet research but you have to make sure that jurors don't know you are doing it. So how does the NY Bar Opinion suggest you check on jurors via social media without violating your ethical duty?