Some legal dangers of online activity
As an Atlanta attorney focused on serious personal injury cases, and as an early adopter of internet technology, I have been fascinated by the growing interaction between law, technology and new media.
Robert Ambrogi at IMS Expert Services blog has posted 10 examples of bad things that can happen in court as a result of imprudent online activity.
- Prolific blogging when claiming an overuse injury due to excessive use of a keyboard at work.
- Texting between attorney and client under the table during a deposition which, upon revelation, leads to discovery of all those text messages.
- Judge twittering from the bench, which led to judge’s resignation.
- Twittering juror led to motion for new trial. Judge in that case denied the motion, but another judge would grant it.
- Lawyer asking for continuance due to death in family, while at same time bragging on Facebook about partying.
- Facebook "friending" between attorney and judge hearing case led to impermissible ex parte communication, a problem for lawyer and judge alike.
- Lawyer on jury duty, without disclosing he was a lawyer, blogging about the trial. This led to new trial for defendant and bar suspension for the lawyer.
- Defendant doctor blogging about progress of his malpractice trial, including unflattering comments about jurors, etc. Plaintiff found the blog and used it on cross examination. The case settled before this went far.
- Myspace revelations about sex life contracting allegation in lawsuit claiming sexual abuse as a minor.
- Remember in the age of ubiquitous video cameras and Youtube, anything you say in public anywhere may wind up on the Internet, so be circumspect.
We had not dreamed of any of these technologies when I started practicing law in 1977, but the principles involved are far from new.
Ken Shigley is an attorney in Atlanta, Georgia, whose practice focuses on representing people who are catastrophically injured, and families of those killed, when companies violate rules designed for protection of public safety. Mr. Shigley has extensive experience representing parties in trucking and bus accidents, products liability, catastrophic personal injury, wrongful death, brain injury, spinal cord injury and burn injury cases. He is a Certified Civil Trial Advocate of the National Board of Trial Advocacy, and has been listed as a "Super Lawyer" (Atlanta Magazine), among the "Legal Elite" (Georgia Trend Magazine), and in the Bar Register of Preeminent Lawyers (Martindale). Currently he is a national board member of the American Association for Justice Interstate Trucking Litigation Group and treasurer of the 41,000 member State Bar of Georgia.
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