"When the individual feels, the community reels."
- Aldous Huxley, Brave New World
As we all adapt to the “Brave New World” where one’s every thought or utterance can be instantly broadcast to hundreds, thousands, or millions of people via Facebook, Twitter and other social networking media, it stands to reason that some of these electronic “feelings” will impact the legal community and the way electronic information is used in litigation.
Despite his fictional view of the future, it’s hard to imagine that Huxley could have foreseen our current environment of lightning-fast relay of stream-of-consciousness meditations. As a primary example, Hadley Jons, a juror in Mount Clemens, Michigan, was removed when it was discovered that she had posted on Facebook that it was going to be “fun to tell the defendant that they’re guilty.” Naturally, the fact that the trial was not over and the defense had not even begun presenting its case presented more than a little problem . . .
Ed White, reporting in The Huffington Post article Juror Hadley Jons Punished For Posting Verdict On Facebook, noted that the posting came to light only because the defense attorney’s son, who was working in his mother’s law office, checked the jurors against Facebook. The judge removed the juror the following day. Though Ms. Jons apologized, the judge ordered her to write a five-page essay about the constitutional right to a fair trial.
So, in addition to the layer of electronic discovery issues already creating new ways to build and analyze a case, attorneys are now realizing that they will need to review and then monitor electronic social media to make sure that their client gets a fair trial.
As for the rest of us, it’s wise to think of our social media postings in light of one of a favorite quote from Facebook: “If you have the capacity to learn from your mistakes, you will learn a lot today.”