You already know that social media use can be a confusing minefield for attorneys, and making the right decision can involve weighing a complex matrix of factors. Should you friend the opposing side’s witnesses as you are prepping for a jury trial in the hopes you get a peek at their postings? (Probably not). Should judges use social media injudiciously during judicial elections? (Definitely not).
However, there are some behaviors that are objectively stupid and bad, and they do not get any less stupid or bad just because you do them on social media. Oh, and they also get you disbarred, at least in Louisiana.
What things, you ask? Oh, things like using Twitter to try to whip people into a frenzy so they will call the judge handling your case and yell at them.
[An]example was this blurb: “Please sign the petition, circulate it to all of your friends and families and call Judge Amacker and Judge Gambrell during the hours of 8:30 to 5:00 starting Monday, August 15 to ask why they won’t follow the law and protect these children. Let them know you’re watching and expect them to do their job and most of all, make sure these precious little girls are safe!”
Hmm. That sounds very stupid, but not necessarily disbarrable. But wait! There’s more.
According to the court, McCool’s social media postings contained many “false, misleading and inflammatory statements” about the way two judges were handling the cases. Among the untrue statements were assertions that judges had refused to admit audio recordings of children talking about alleged abuse, although the recordings were not offered into evidence
Now that sounds like something that might merit disbarment. It seems likely that most judges would not look fondly upon a public smear campaign designed to get people to contact them, ex parte, and complain about something that is not actually true. Lawyers, don’t do this.