Everyday we are encouraged to engage with social media, to share pictures and personal opinions with our friends, but sometimes this level of public sharing can go awry. In this post, we cover a story where a man’s photo shared on his personal profile resulted in some bad legal advice, and some harsh consequences as a result. Read on to find out what happened, and how you can avoid this kind of situation.
The Allied Concrete Case.
There have been numerous cases, such as the one involving an Allied Concrete cement truck, in which social media posts were used to reach a settlement. In the Allied Concrete case, everything seemed to have been settled; the victim’s survivors had been awarded compensation. The award was then redacted and, later, reinstated, all because of some Facebook posts.
The victim’s husband, Isaiah Lester, had posted some photos of himself, including one in which he was holding a beer and wearing a T-shirt saying “I [heart] hot moms,” on his Facebook profile. Lester’s attorney, Matt Murray, told Lester to “clean up” his profile when Allied Concrete attorneys asked for images from Lester’s profile. When the attempt to withhold information later came to light, a Virginia Circuit Court Judge ruled against Lester and Murray due to their “extensive pattern of deceptive and obstructionist conduct.” The original award was later reinstated, but Murray was forced to leave his job at a prestigious injury firm and is serving a 5-year suspension due to ethics violations.
This is Our New Normal.
What you post indicates where you’ve been, what you were doing, and who you were with. Courts consider these posts to be admissible evidence that is not to be tampered with, giving lawyers access to personal information without the need for a subpoena.
As an attorney, you need to be ethical in your recommendations to clients. The biggest lesson learned from this case is not to tell your client to delete their posts, so don’t do that!
How Do I Protect Myself?
1. Be smart about what you post online. Remember that anything you say (verbally and digitally) can and will be used against you.
3. If you find yourself in a legal predicament, do not delete your accounts and/or posts. Such behavior can seem like you’re trying to hide something.
4. Your business profiles should be strictly professional. Keep your posts related to your practice, articles about relevant cases, news about your firm, your own blog posts, and so on.