Article Social Media Ethics: 4 Issues to Consider When Researching Jurors and Witnesses

As it’s generally permissible to research jurors and witnesses online, specifically on social media websites, there are certain actions that could have negative consequences for attorneys. While most may be avoided by using common sense, there can be gray areas that cause pause.

In our published article on Above the Law, we address the following social media ethics when conducting legal research:

  1. Researching publicly-available social media profile data – The American Bar Association and some case rulings have held that publicly-available social media data is discoverable.
  2. Accessing private or encrypted social media data – Initiating contact with witnesses and jurors on social media, or to obtain private or encrypted data through deceit, can cause issues for attorneys.
  3. Advising clients to “clean up” their social media profiles – Altering social media content to make a case appear better can result in sanctions for intentional spoliation.
  4. Failing to provide data preservation advice that reflects current technologies – Attorneys can be held accountable for not demonstrating adequate technical competence when advising their clients.

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