First, in the Miami Herald yesterday: a state defense attorney snaps a photo of her client's underwear, and posts it on Facebook. The accused's family had brought him the leopard-print underwear along with fresh clothes to wear during his trial. The lawyer apparently posted the photo and a smart-ass caption about the family thinking this was appropriate attire for court. She was fired and a mistrial was declared. It was the murder trial of a man accused of stabbing his girlfriend to death in 2012.
Second, Daily Business Review reported that two defense lawyers are facing ethics charges for having their paralegal add the plaintiff as a Facebook friend in order to gain access to non-public information. The 18-year old plaintiff sustained a fractured femur when he was struck by a police car in a driveway. His Facebook photos showed him wrestling with his brother, traveling around the country and drinking alcohol, which the defense lawyers attempted to use to dispute the seriousness of his injuries. They are fighting the ethics charges, claiming that they instructed the paralegal to do online research, but they never told her to "friend" the plaintiff.
I've been wary of the tendency to use Facebook inappropriately ever since I found out that my grandmother had passed away through my teenage cousin's status update: "RIP Granny... we will miss u 4ever." But you'd think attorneys would have a bit more sense. Under the stress of tight deadlines and heavy caseloads, are lawyers becoming unhinged? Perhaps part of the requirements for admission to the bar should involve the completion of a course on social media etiquette. Although something tells me this isn't the type of thing that can be taught. Either you know how to behave - on Facebook, and in the real world - or you don't.