Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Making A Public Record Of Your Life....

Tapped points to a story about how a teen, hoping to avoid the draft in Israel, was foiled by the content of her FaceBook page. It established that she did not, in fact, lead the religious lifestyle she professed when seeking an exemption from military service. But anybody can do this, not just the military. Many employers look for this stuff. Lawyers should, as well.

Recently I dug up a FaceBook page by a witness who had "flipped", and was testifying on behalf of the government. My effort was 90% perspiration and 10% luck. (Or maybe that's the other way around.) The witness had nothing on his page that identified him by his actual name, or even by any alias or nickname known to the defense. But he sprinked enough into a comment he made on somebody else's page that I found him. I was brought into the case at a very late date, unfortunately, as I suspect his public page was just the tip of the iceberg - and I really would have liked to have seen the private content of his page, as well as getting his email addresses and following their trail to online email accounts or other sites that may have provided even more information about his activities and schemes. (The witness was demolished on cross, but the defendants were nonetheless convicted.)

If you're a lawyer, you have to look for this stuff - and you have to look early. For that matter, look late as well - if you find FaceBook or MySpace pages, blogs, or similar pages by jurors, see what they write about the case and when they write it. Look for posts by witnesses - in a recent fatal car-pedestrian accident I know about - as a friend of the family, not as a lawyer - a witness poured his heart out onto his blog. Would your trial and discovery prep be improved by having a witness account that is close to contemporaneous?

1 comment:

  1. Speaking of which, I just sent you a friend request on Facebook (Patti Smith).

    It's amazing what people will say on the wide, wide world of web, especially Generation Y. Our school had to have a whole assembly on this issue. It may SEEM fun to get drunk and post your dingie on the 'net, but you wouldn't want your teacher to see it....

    (Uh, not that this happened!)


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