Mind Your Social Media

Facebook hit a milestone in August with over 1 billion users active in 1 day.  Some of that may prove advantageous by opposing counsel.  What you post publically could be very interesting to an attorney who is trying to build a case against you. Many states consider what you post publically on social media to be for public consumption.  As long as an attorney or attorney’s representative does not try to contact you via social media, their viewing of your post may be considered the same as reading a magazine article written by you.  That may or may not show your best side in a court of law. Even if opposing counsel cannot use material you posted in court, you may give them information that could be disadvantageous to you.   Read More

Social Media & Service of Process

FaceBook, Twitter, and your LinkedIn account—these are the latest tools for Process Servers to know where you are and when.  Let us say you have not made a mortgage payment in a long time.  You get restless hiding in the dark, listening to that guy in a suit knocking on the door, so you slip out the back and head down to the gym for a little workout.  Post it on your FaceBook page so your friends can join you, and next thing you know, the guy in the suit is there too…but not to work out. Service of Process is personal delivery of notice that a lawsuit is filed against you, and an invitation for you to answer.  At a time when doctors no longer make house calls, lawyers have legal documents hand-delivered via sheriff’s deputies or authorized Process Servers. A Process Server is there to deliver a notice so you may be informed of legal actions against you.  The better informed you are, the better able you are to act.  There is no good time to receive a lawsuit, but hiding from a Process Server is a poor defense.  (Process Servers are creative people and tech-savvy to use […] Read More

Lonely on the Bench – Social Media & the Judicial System

A ‘Friend’ online could be a foe in the courtroom.  Social media relationships may go for debate before the Florida Supreme Court with a case brought by a defendant whose judge was ‘Friends’ with the prosecutor online.  If the State Supreme Court accepts the case, they may determine who can and cannot be online ‘Friends’ with Florida’s judges. Judges are people too, but according to one judge in the 4th District Court of Appeal, judges do not enjoy the same personal freedom everybody else does, as they strive for the appearance of impartiality and away from impropriety. Attorneys and judges are not the only ones subject to the foul effects of FaceBook.  Say, for instance a personal injury defendant claims he cannot move due to injuries sustained, then posts photos on FaceBook of himself doing handsprings down the sidewalk.  Well…it could be the pain medication. It may be lonely at the top sitting on the bench, but social media posts could be peril to anyone in a court of law.  Professional guidelines for legal ethics online are still e-volving. Read More

Legal Ethics Online

Roughly thirteen percent of the world’s population is on Facebook…and for the 12th year in a row, identity theft is the top complaint at the Federal Trade Commission.  While courts race to improve their e-fficiency with e-filings, they also debate online e-thics. Is Facebook a friend or foe for attorneys?  Could be both.  The Florida Bar is now requesting attorney email addresses as part of the official Bar record to help implement the e-filing and e-service of the state’s court system.  At the same time, an online presence in social media presents both a potential bonanza of valuable and possibly embarrassing information about the opposing side and its witnesses…and a one-click ethics violation for attorneys. Where to draw the line online?  It is one thing to look and it is another thing to “Friend.”  A publicly available post can be viewed like reading a magazine article.  However, “Friending” could cross into communication with a person represented by an attorney.  In Florida, it is unethical for a judge to “Friend” an attorney who might appear before him or her in court, but that is not the case in all states. Legal ethics online is still e-volving, possibly with more guidelines e-ventually. Read More