Information on Social Media Sites Available to Attorneys

I know you love to update your Facebook status and Tweet awesome photos from lunch, but if you’re in a lawsuit, will social media help or harm you?

While PCMag.com is reporting that Facebook is losing U.S. users, Facebook still has approximately 150 million users in the United States alone, totaling about half of our country’s population. Expressing yourself and sharing information is what social media is all about. However, if you are involved in a lawsuit, the disclosure of your personal information could change the direction your case is headed.

In a recent article entitled “Digging Up Social Media’s Treasure Trove of Discovery” the term “Facebook frontier” is defined and discussed. The “Facebook frontier” is a way for lawyers to do research on a plaintiff or defendant in a case to see what they are telling the world – what’s really happening in their lives – instead of what they’re just telling their attorney.

The article cites a May 19th opinion by Judge Charles H. Saylor which allowed the defense counsel to review the plaintiff’s public and private portions of Facebook and MySpace pages. Rulings similar to this one have been seen in Pennsylvania, New York, Colorado, and Canada already.

If you’re scared, don’t worry, you’re not alone! Here are some tips on how to stay social media savvy:

  1. Google yourself.
  2. Set up Google Alerts to notify you when specific things, like your name, is mentioned.
  3. If you have work history online, make sure the information is correct and up-to-date.
  4. Never misrepresent yourself.
  5. Watch what you post – especially if you’re under a non-disclosure agreement or restrictive covenant.

Here are some legal tidbits on social media matters:

According to the article, Philadephia Bar Association Professional Guidance Committee Opinion No. 2009-02 and New York State Bar Association Committee on Professional Ethics Opinion No. 843 have opined that a lawyer may not “friend” a party or direct someone to “friend” a party to secure information about that party for use in a suit. Doing so would involve deceit or misrepresentation and violate the lawyer’s ethical obligations. Also, there has been no official opinion published on deceptive “friending” in Texas, however, it would be “afoul” of the Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct.

Ron Kramer is a Utah personal injury and accident lawyer practicing throughout the state. Call the Kramer Law Group today at 801-601-1229 for a free consultation.

Cesar Medina Files Civil Rights Lawsuit Against West Valley City Police

25-year-old Cesar Medina has filed a civil rights lawsuit against West Valley Police Officer, Jared Cardon. Medina claims he didn’t deserve the treatment he received and has video evidence supporting his claim.

Medina said he was on the way to his girlfriend’s house when he noticed a police officer following him. The officer followed him for several blocks but did not activate his lights or siren. When Medina got to his girlfriend’s house he said the officer yelled at him to stay in his truck. The camera then began recording and showed the officer approaching Medina who was standing by his truck. The officers approached Medina and pushed him to the ground. The officer then began searching Medina while he was handcuffed on the ground.

The camera showed Officer Cardon asking Medina’s girlfriend if the truck was stolen. Medina said he borrowed the truck from a friend that day. According to KUTV.com, Medina asked the officer why he was pulled over. Officer Cardon told him he was had run a stop sign. Later in court, the stop sign charge was thrown out and Medina was cited for going 15 miles over the speed limit- which Medina denies.

Medina’s attorney said the officer used excessive force for no apparent reason. “The only reason you can use excessive force in effecting an arrest is if the suspect is somehow a threat, he is armed, he is fleeing.” Medina’s attorney believe the officer “stereotyped” and the was the reasoning behind the excessive force.

It is difficult to know all the details of the case. The camera did not catch the alleged traffic violations or the conversation that took place before Medina was thrown to the ground. It does appear that Medina had his hands in plain site and was not looking to flee the scene or resist arrest.

I think it is fair to say that no one reading this article would want to be treated the way Cesar Medina was treated. Since when do officers have the right to forcibly throw a speeder to the ground and cuff them when they are posing no threat to this rogue officer? Under the U.S. Constitution, they do not. I’m glad this suit is being brought. While I don’t think it will be a big money winner for Mr. Medina, I’m glad that the restrictions on law enforcement, guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution, are being enforced against this officer and the police force he belongs to.

Ron Kramer is a Utah personal injury and accident lawyer practicing throughout the state. Call the Kramer Law Group today at 801-666-3959 for a free consultation.