Should trial lawyers conduct Internet and social media searches about:
- prospective jurors during jury selection
- actual jurors during the trial?
This is the first of a series of seminars presented by the Committee on Teaching Trial and Appellate Advocacy of the American College of Trial Lawyers to address trial advocacy issues that have ethical implications. The series will focus on questions that do not lend themselves to easy or simplistic answers. The goals are to improve our understanding of these issues, to identify the controlling (and sometimes conflicting) principles that govern them and stimulate discussion between the Bench and the Bar on these subjects across the country. We are confident that this dialogue will lead to solutions that comply with high ethical standards and that result in continuing improvements in trial advocacy.
You will explore
- The ethical boundaries under Rules of Professional Conduct for handling Internet and social media searches of prospective and selected jurors.
- Potential reactions by trial judges and jurors if they learn lawyers are conducting these searches.
- The discretionary authority of trial judges to restrict or prohibit Internet and social media searches about prospective or actual jurors.
- Cases on the lawyer’s duty to disclose to the Court evidence of juror misconduct disclosed by the lawyer’s Internet and social media searches.
- Special issues raised by searches of prospective or actual jurors’ Facebook and LinkedIn accounts.
- In courts and jurisdictions in which Internet and social media searches of prospective or actual jurors are allowed, whether it is advisable for the trial judge to instruct the prospective and actual jurors that the lawyers may be searching their Internet and social media accounts during jury selection or the trial.
- In situations in which it is necessary to question a prospective juror during jury selection about information learned through Internet or social media searches about that prospective juror, whether it is possible to develop procedures that appropriately balance the parties’ interest in probing the publicly available information about prospective jurors with the need to avoid making prospective jurors feel that their privacy is being invaded.
- Practical considerations involving Internet and social media searches of prospective and actual jurors.
Recorded in November, 2017.