Mark Roman | February 25, 2019 | news
Any American who has watched a police procedural has heard it: A newly-arrested suspect being told by a police officer that they have the right to remain silent. This protection against self-incrimination is a Constitutional right in criminal cases. However, remaining silent isn’t just a good idea in criminal cases. There are many reasons why lawyers tell their clients not to discuss their civil cases, too.
The Dangers of Discussing Your Civil Case on Social Media
Anything bad enough to give rise to a civil lawsuit is bound to be frustrating, both emotionally and financially. Thus, it’s easy to understand the temptation to vent some frustration over a civil legal dispute. However, mouthing off about things like a car crash or an injury at work can get clients in trouble in a hurry. In the age of social media and smartphones, anything you say could get recorded for posterity and become available to the world.
Of course, opposing lawyers are now savvy to the electronic footprint people leave. In our experience, one of the first things defense attorneys do is check social media to see if our clients have said or posted something that could undermine their injury claim.
In newsworthy cases, defense attorneys will also scour media reports for statements indicating hostility or anger. They use such statements to paint a plaintiff as a “disgruntled person” who “has a chip on their shoulder.”
It’s not just statements that can cause problems. Defense lawyers will use photos or videos of people on vacation to show that an injury didn’t affect the quality of their lives. In fact, any plaintiff who is shown appearing to have a good time – relaxing with friends, drinking socially, or enjoying a day at the beach – will probably end up being confronted about it before a jury.
Court Proceedings MUST Remain Confidential
Issues can arise when people talk about confidential court proceedings as well. For example, in a case we’re involved in arising from a boat fire, one of the injured people (who we don’t represent) spoke to a reporter about the results of mediation. Unfortunately for him, mediations are strictly confidential. His dissatisfaction with the vessel owner’s behavior in settlement negotiations resulted in a motion to dismiss his case. A federal magistrate appeared to recognize that the man simply made a mistake and recommended against dismissal, but there’s no final decision yet.
Finally, there’s a small class of sensational or highly publicized cases in which silence can be mandatory. Courts have power to override free speech rights and impose “gag orders” in criminal cases if they believe a person’s right to a fair trial may be affected by out-of-court statements. This recently happened in the cases involving Trump associates Paul Manafort and Roger Stone. While Stone and Manafort are free to speak to the press about anything else, they—along with others involved in their cases—must refrain from talking to the media in a way which could contaminate potential jurors.
Contact the Personal Injury Law Firm Of Roman Austin Personal Injury Lawyers To Get The Help You Deserve
If you need help with your injury case or you want to learn more information, please call the Personal Injury law firm of Roman Austin Personal Injury Lawyers at (727) 787-2500 or visit the nearest location to schedule a free case evaluation today.
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