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Monthly Archives: October 2014

Public Engagement with the Criminal Justice System in the Age of Social Media

Public Engagement with the Criminal Justice System in the Age of Social Media

Michelle Rose

Richard Fox

Abstract (to read the entire article go here): 

Exemplified by the landmark trial of O.J. Simpson, news media coverage of criminal cases in the United States is now regularly dominated by tabloid style coverage, complete with fixation on the victims and accused in criminal cases. Investigators have shown that such coverage of criminal proceedings is linked to decreasing levels of public trust and confidence in the criminal justice system. What is not yet understood is how rapid changes to the media universe in terms of online news sources and social networking are impacting coverage of criminal proceedings and public understanding of the criminal justice system. By surveying the American public on their news consumption habits, participation in social networking, knowledge and opinions of highly publicized criminal cases, and perceptions of the legitimacy of the justice system, we offer one of the first analyses of social media’s impact on public interaction with the criminal justice system. Ultimately we find little evidence that social media is enhancing citizen knowledge about or confidence in the criminal justice system, but we do uncover strong evidence that social media engagement with criminal trials leads to a greater desire for vengeance and encouragement of vigilante attitudes and behavior.

Keep Your Friends Close: A Framework for Addressing Rights to Social Media Contacts


Keep Your Friends Close: A Framework for Addressing Rights to Social Media Contacts

ABSTRACT (to read the entire article go here)

The proliferation of social media poses numerous new challenges that require the law to find creative solutions. One pressing legal question is who has the superior right to social media contacts as between an employee who manages a company’s social media accounts and the company on whose behalf the employee acts. The very nature of social media accounts, and the different ways that businesses and their employees use them, blurs their users’ personal and professional identities so that employees and the employers frequently maintain concurrent, and often competing, interests in access to an account’s followers.

This Note first considers the way intellectual property regimes have responded in the past to technological innovation that places pressure on employment relationships. Though trade secrets law’s flexibility initially appears to offer an appropriately fact-specific method to answer this question, it ultimately proves inadequate to address the unique problems that social media poses. Copyright and patent law have each dealt with tensions in the employment context similar to those that social media creates. After examining them, this Note proposes importing patent law’s shop right and hired to invent doctrine into the social media context and discusses how it would apply in various employment scenarios.

PA Issues New Social Media Guidance for Attorneys


Ethical Obligations for Attorneys Using Social Media

For attorneys looking for more guidance about how to use social media properly, Pennsylvania here is to help.  The state has recently issued a lengthy ethics opinion discussing the proper use of social media by attorneys.  Among other things, this opinion states that:

• Attorneys may advise clients about the content of their social networking websites, including the removal or addition of information.

• Attorneys may connect with clients and former clients.

• Attorneys may not contact a represented person through social networking websites.

• Although attorneys may contact an unrepresented person through social networking websites, they may not use a pretextual basis for viewing otherwise private information on social networking websites.

• Attorneys may use information on social networking websites in a dispute.

• Attorneys may accept client reviews but must monitor those reviews for accuracy.

• Attorneys may generally comment or respond to reviews or endorsements, and may solicit such endorsements.

• Attorneys may generally endorse other attorneys on social networking websites.

• Attorneys may review a juror’s Internet presence.

• Attorneys may connect with judges on social networking websites provided the purpose is not to influence the judge in carrying out his or her official duties.

Social Media Ethics for Attorneys

Attorney Social Media Ethics


Lisa Sherman has a great powerpoint presentation entitled Navigating the Ethical Minefield of Social Media for California Attorneys.  While this presentation is geared to California attorneys, I think it is useful regardless of whether you practice in the state.  I have seen many presentations on social media and ethics and very few are as in-depth as this one.

Lawyers Beware: You are What You Post! The Case for Integrating Cultural Competence, Legal Ethics and Social Media

Lawyers Beware: You are What You Post! The Case for Integrating Cultural Competence, Legal Ethics and Social Media


Jan Jacobowitz

Abstract (to read the entire article go here):

First learn the meaning of what you say, and then speak.

Words used carelessly, as if they… do… not matter in any serious way, often allow… otherwise well-guarded truths to seep through.
–Douglas Adams

Happy Mother’s Day to all the crack hoes out there. It’s never too late to tie your tubes, clean up your life and make difference to someone out there that deserves a better mother.
–Assistant State Attorney in Orange County, Florida

No thought left unspoken…social media networking — ubiquitous in our society — provides the opportunity for individuals to share their moment-to-moment thoughts and actions. Social media has created communities and its own culture. Social networking communities have empowered individuals to join together to stage uprisings, support charitable causes, launch entrepreneurial ventures, and generally share the accomplishments and defeats of their daily lives.

Many lawyers have joined social media networks and are actively participating in both their professional and personal lives. Some lawyers have found social media networks to be beneficial in marketing their practices and in obtaining information and evidence to more effectively represent their clients.

Unfortunately, other lawyers have found themselves caught in a quagmire of ethical and professional missteps resulting in disciplinary problems and loss of employment. These lawyers often fail to appreciate the application of the legal ethics rules and standards of professionalism to the use of social media. Moreover, like many other individuals engaged in social media, these lawyers generally seem to lack cultural awareness and perspective on the far-reaching impact that a social media communication may have upon the audience and ultimately upon the communicator.

This article explores the importance of cultural competence both as a critical component of effective and ethical legal practice and as it pertains to a lawyer’s participation in social media networking. The article will first define cultural competence and its significance for the legal profession. Next, the article will discuss the culture of the legal profession as it is reflected in social science research, popular culture, and scholarly works. Then, the article will examine the culture of social media and the legal profession’s participation in this culture. Finally, the article will explore the interrelationships of cultural competence, the legal profession, and social media with the goal of providing insight and guidance for lawyers to professionally and ethically engage in social networking.

Monitoring the Social Media Accounts of High School Students


Monitoring the Social Media Accounts of High School Students

According to media reports, the Southern Poverty Law Center is none to pleased that Huntsville city schools is monitoring the social media accounts of its students under their SAFe program.  The Center has offered to help any student who has been disciplined because of a social media post.  According to school officials, they only review a student’s social media account if the student has already shown signs of trouble and someone reports them to administrators.

Previously, I blogged about California’s new law that provides students greater privacy in their social media activity.  Alabama might want to consider following California’s lead and enacting its own safeguards for students.

Juror Misconduct in New Hampshire: New Law Review Article


This Note examines the prevalence of Internet-related juror misconduct in the New Hampshire Superior Court and the efforts of Superior Court judges to detect and prevent such misconduct. I conducted a survey of New Hampshire Superior Court judges regarding their experience with juror Internet misconduct and solicited their feedback about a sample jury instruction. I have incorporated their feedback into a proposed set of jury instructions specifically targeted at reducing juror Internet misconduct.