Social media continues to have a profound effect on litigation today. Whether you use it to research your own potential clients, vet potential jurors in an upcoming case, or prepare for the cross examinations of key witnesses, social media investigation can be a vital and invaluable resource to your litigation strategy. These three examples illustrate show how gathering social media evidence can be vital to winning a case.
1. Social Media Evidence Wins Custody Battles
The American Bar Association (see article) recently highlighted a case in which social media helped a father win full custody of his son.
Although the child’s mother had been advised to review her social media, she made a mistake when changing her privacy settings. The father’s attorneys were able to discover through her Facebook that the mother was actively using illegal drugs, had been kicked out of a nightclub for intoxication, and was planning to move out of state—a fact she had not disclosed to the child’s father or the court.
These behaviors, uncovered through social media, significantly and negatively impacted her argument for custody, and as a result, her husband won full custody of their son.
2. Failing to Search Social Media Could Mean Losing A Case – Or More…
In the same article, the ABA referred to a case where a lack of social media research diligence backfired on the principal attorney. A large insurance client was defending an action brought by a claimant who alleged a series of injuries and significant damages from a minor car accident. The jury favored the plaintiff and awarded her a substantial monetary verdict.
During the insurer’s post-trial review of the case, the plaintiff’s internet presence was carefully examined. It was determined she had posted several photos of herself on Myspace proving she was in much better condition than she alleged. Consequently, the insurer’s attorney was essentially fired and is now facing a possible malpractice claim for his failure to perform an adequate social media investigation.
3. Social Media Exposes Defendants’ Hidden Motivations
Another case exemplifies how social media can be used as evidence to contradict in-court testimony. In People v. Franco (see article), a woman was accused of illegally racing another car on a freeway and causing the death of the other driver. She claimed she wasn’t racing but only tapped her brakes to slow down because the other driver was tailgating her. The day before this incident, however, the defendant posted this message on her Myspace page: “If you find me on the freeway and you can keep up I have a really bad habit of racing random people.”
Focus on What Matters—Your Time
Finding social media and open-source intelligence (OSINT) evidence can be crucial during litigation. However, it could take days or even weeks to uncover potentially damaging evidence that can possibly clinch your case.
This is just time you don’t have.
At SMI, we believe high value people, such as litigators, should focus solely on high value decisions and not spend valuable time doing research. Instead, let SMI partner with you to become your time-saving social media investigator.
As an extension of your legal team, we can use our hybrid investigative system to reduce the time of collecting, organizing and analyzing social media information and data from OSINT sources. SMI uses a blend of an automated software—which incorporates data from traditional search engines, social media sites, the deep web, and even structured databases—as well as a highly trained person to provide our busy legal clients with relevant and repeatable results. So now your time and energy can be better spent elsewhere.
See how SMI can make your social media investigations faster and more complete. Sign up for a free demo today.