1. Trench Menu:
2. Too Much Information:
See the difference?
The usual trial lawyers’ courthouse greeting is, “what do you have going on today?”
We criminal-defense lawyers are gregarious social creatures; we like to hear what our colleagues are up to. If you’re a criminal-defense lawyer, being followed by any number of criminal-defense lawyers on Twitter, you can reasonably assume that what you have on your plate will be of interest to someone. If you’re wrong, they will mock you or just ignore you.
But remember: When you post something on Twitter you can never make it disappear. Your clients can read it. Worse, prosecutors can read it. Worst, your jurors can read it, and they can do a lot worse to you and your clients than just mock you and ignore you.
“Well,” the lawyer (I have not used his name in the text here because I don’t want the juror, googling the lawyer’s name, to happen upon this site and thus find the TMI tweet) might say, “I don’t identify the clients who are attracted to kids.” Or “But this is part of my orchestrated plan to lull the prosecutors into complacency.”
Sometime in the near future, a lawyer picks a jury on a sex-assault-of-a-child case. The accused won’t take the stand to testify. The allegations are vague enough that no alibi will avail. He has no living relatives, and no friends who have stuck by him. It falls to the lawyer to tell the jury the client’s story in jury selection, in opening, in cross, and in closing: he didn’t do it and in fact is in no way attracted to children.
A juror, curious about the lawyer, does an internet search, finds the lawyer’s Twitter feed, and sees that the lawyer has a client who is charged with sexual assault and is attracted to kids. The lawyer is handling lots of sexual-assault cases, but how does the juror know that? The lawyer is not writing about this client, but how does the juror know that? He jumps to the wrong conclusion and decides that the lawyer is lying to him.
Thanks to that decision, the innocent client is convicted; for want of sound judgment on Twitter, a life is lost.