Posted on Jul 07, 2015

Do you know who has been looking at your Facebook posts?

Would you be embarrassed if a couple of your “candid” Tweets were on display in a courtroom next week?

Recently, the Herald Journal ran an article on dumb moments on social media ending up in the Family Court. The American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML) conducted a survey in which 97% of its members reported an increase in evidence from smart phones and other wireless devices used as evidence in divorce cases. Almost all attorneys participating in this survey recognized the increase in the number of text messages used in cases. More than two-thirds answered that evidence from applications (apps) and from social websites such as Facebook is used in these cases.

I try to remind myself in life not to say or do things I would be embarrassed to say or do in front of my mother. This not just because I would be embarrassed if my mother heard me say unsavory things, but because saying unsavory things does not help others, nor does it help me.

The same advice could be given to all court litigants. It doesn’t matter whether you’re going to appear in family court, in a personal injury case in civil court, or as a defendant in criminal court. Don’t say anything on Facebook or through text messages that you would be embarrassed to have a judge or jury hear. This is good advice not to just avoid embarrassment (and to avoid hurting your case), but because anything you say or do that would embarrass you in front of a judge is probably evidence of bad behavior that hurts others. And it certainly does not help you. While the article talked about Family Court, we have found that the problem extends across all our practice. Today, we see social media evidence being used in all types of cases.

Rob Usry of our firm was quoted in this newspaper article as follows: “We've seen social media evidence in every type of case our firm handles—injury cases, criminal cases, and especially family law cases. If you're involved in a legal case, here's the rule on social media: Don't use it. Anything you text, tweet, or (post on) Facebook can and will be used against you[.]”

That’s good advice no matter the case. Remember: it is improper to destroy or delete social media evidence, so the best thing is to follow a hands off rule from the start.

If you have a legal matter and need assistance, please contact the lawyers at Holland & Usry toll-free at 888.230.1841 for a confidential consultation. Psst: notice that word, confidential. We won’t talk about it. You shouldn’t either.


John Holland
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John Holland is a Spartanburg Family law attorney, practicing since 2012.