Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Friending Adverse Witness On Facebook or Myspace Violates Ethics Rules

There was an interesting article in the ABA Journal [here] today about a decision Philadelphia Bar Association’s Professional Guidance Committee stating that a lawyer may be violating ethics rules by "friending" an adverse witness on a social networking site.  The committee's decision can be found here

The lawyer requested the committee provide an ethics opinion after he took the deposition of a 19 year old witness.  He asked if he could have a third party "friend" the witness on Facebook and MySpace and indicated the witness accepted everyone who friended her. 
The inquirer has suggested that his proposed conduct is similar to the common -- and ethical -- practice of videotaping the public conduct of a plaintiff in a personal injury case to show that he or she is capable of performing physical acts he claims his injury prevents. The Committee disagrees. In the video situation, the videographer simply follows the subject and films him as he presents himself to the public. The videographer does not have to ask to enter a private area to make the video. If he did, then similar issues would be confronted, as for example, if the videographer took a hidden camera and gained access to the inside of a house to make a video by presenting himself as a utility worker.


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