Social media is that new frontier we always hear about – or one of them anyway. Some lawyers are still trying to understand the limits. One lawyer in South Florida was upset about a judge, who he believed was circumventing the speedy trial requirements. So, he posted a blog entry about a judge. The judge would ask defendants if they would be ready for trial sooner than normal – apparently trying to avoid the speedy trial law. The lawyer, Sean W. Conway, did more than discuss trial tactics. He blastd the judge, making some personal attacks on her. The Florida Bar Association found that the the lawyer’s blog entry violated Florida ethical rules regarding public comments about a judge’s integrity. See ABA Bar Journal report. Mr. Conway opposed the sanctions on the basis of the First Amendment. The Florida Supreme Court rejected his argument. The court issued Mr. Conway a public reprimand and a fine of $1250.
And, we already know about a judge in North Carolina who had "friended" a lawyer on Facebook who was appearing in a case before the judge. The two exchanged comments about the trial on FB during the trial. That judge, Carleton Terry was issued a public reprimand. See my prior post about this case.
And, another lawyer in Illinois lost her job with the Public Defender’s office because she blogged about cases she worked on. Lawyers should know not to reveal confidential information acquired from clients.
These rules are not new. The social setting is new. The intimacy of online communication suggests a level of privacy that does not exist. The best rule of thumb is to assume anything you publish on the web will be viewed by everyone. So be careful out there…..