The Impact of Social Media on Legal Cases

by | Published on Nov 27, 2013 | Legal Process Outsourcing

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According to a study conducted by X1 Discovery, a proven eDiscovery and enterprise search solution, social networking sites made a vital presence in around 700 cases in the past two years. Facebook and MySpace were the prominent social networking sites, followed by Twitter and LinkedIn.

The famous Trayvon Martin case is a perfect example that shows the extent to which social media impacts litigation. At first, the killing of this seventeen year old was a barely covered news story in Central Florida. But the overwhelming number of responses through social networking sites caused the case to receive widespread nationwide interest within a short period of time. This public outcry got the crime suspect, George Zimmerman, to get arrested within 44 days. Since the trial began, it generated an average of 100 tweets a day. Meanwhile, the attorneys for George Zimmerman launched a Facebook page and Twitter account to interact with the public and comment on developments in the case. Lawyers from both sides admitted that social networking platforms brought the case to the world. The lawyer of Martin’s family added that the social media movements that evolved after Trayvon’s death had the potential to change the way the criminal cases would be handled in the future.

Attorneys can their client to deactivate an account but not to delete possible evidence. The release of a social media page can be subpoenaed during the trial though it will first go to the user of the account and then the representative of the user. A New York attorney was disbarred for persuading his client to delete content relevant to the case from his social media profiles.

Social networking sites not only provide evidences to court cases, but also remain as a challenge for judges to make a decision on jurors who discuss cases on these sites. A judge dismissed a juror in 2010 on account of her post on Facebook saying the defendant was guilty while the trial was still going on.

However, authenticating the relevance and legitimacy of social media content to the case is very challenging. There is a chance that someone could create a fake profile for the opposite side to deliberately tarnishing their reputation.

All types of lawsuits – clinical, racial and gender based, workplace, criminal – are on the rise, making it difficult for legal practices to handle their documentation tasks. It’s no wonder that attorneys and other industry professionals are relying on professional legal transcription services.

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