Friday, March 01, 2013

Trial Lawyers Tackle Twitter?

So goes the title of a recent ABA Law Practice article.

So, I read. The article should be "How Trial Lawyers could Tackle Twitter, 101." The first thing I thought was ... interesting how no one is able to comment on the ABA article. This is odd, because the article says at the last sentence:  "let us know how it goes." So I looked around and found the "feedback" But, the link does not work. For two days. ABA?

I read on, but found not one war story, suggestion or comment from a "Trial Lawyer." For me those are two words that mean something. Our office litigated five jury trials in the last 14 months.We're trial lawyers. So I wanted to hear from one.

I was then challenged by a Twitter person to write about the subject, which I have. 

 A search of my blog shows posts about Twitter since 2008. Another search will find cases posted on social media and discovery:

Having actually asked questions during voir dire, I'd add to that article - if indeed you want to 'tackle' twitter when it comes to TRIAL -

1)Let the Court know when the Pre Trial Conference is held that you plan to submit a model jury instruction on social media. Find it on my blog here

We have submitted that instruction and are now 3 for 3 in our last cases.

2)I have asked how many on the venire use social media. Information, however is key. When we pick a jury, we always carry census data in the event I must make a civil Batson challenge.

In the case of social media, we talk to the Judge about social media, and note that Facebook reiqns supreme just about everywhere. Twitter? Not so much. At this link, Pew says 16% use Twitter.    Read further down that link ... 72% of women are on Facebook. With this data, I'm able to inform a Court in the hinterlands (since we all don't practice in big cities like Chicago) how prevalent social media is, and how it might affect jury deliberations. Print the survey, because I am telling you that opposing counsel will laugh off your suggestions on the next point ... 

3)It's easy to say to a litigator to write juror names down and figure out their twitter handles. That is simply unrealistic. If Robert Kym is on my jury, how am I supposed to know that he is @coreburnfatt?

More importantly, chasing down twitter handles when many lawyers litigate without a second chair wastes time. In Georgia, a panel of 30+ gets called up, you question them at most half a day, and you get perhaps 10 minutes to try to deal with strikes and pick your jury.  
Strongly suggest that the Court - not you - ask for twitter handles so that the Court may let jurors know that she may be watching their comments. Have the court write them down, slowly and share those with you.

You don't have to follow them, just use search.twitter (below).

4) Don't simply ask the Court to have jurors turn off their cell phones during trial or on the way home. A blanket prohibition - with consequences - is critical. If the judge tell the jury words to the effect "stay off internet sites" AFTER you agreed to point out  the main sites by name, go back and ask the Court to do it the right way. 

The point? If you don't focus on it, it is equal to not objecting to testimony that should not come in.

5)When in trial, have someone in your office go to . No account required to search. We use it all the time.

6)If you limit yourself to Twitter, no use in asking a venire questions. Ask about Facebook, Pinterest, Tumblr, Instagram. Google + has more than 300 million users. Forget them at your peril.

 I have a news flash for you - they are talking about your case on Linkedin too. 

Type in google "top social media sites" and bring that with you to Court.

Now about the ABA - I have met Ernie, respect his work on the web, and am guessing that his article was edited. Ernie, good work. 

Send me an email if you agree or disagree: galawyerblog(at)


let us know how it goes.