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June 2010

How do Attorneys Ethically Access Information about Plaintiffs and Witnesses from Facebook?

The Defense Research Institute's Young Lawyers Committee publishes a monthly electronic newsletter, The Whisper, featuring articles written by DRI members who have been practicing 10 years or less. In the March 2010 issue, Gordon & Rees's San Francisco office Associate Marie Trimble authored an article entitled, A Guide to Navigating the Discovery of Facebook Records Within the Boundaries of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act.  Ms. Trimble is on the Young Lawyers Steering Committee and serves as a Co-Vice Chair of the Legislative Liaison Subcommittee.

In her article, Ms. Trimble explains that Facebook provides a wealth of information that could be highly relevant for use in litigation. Status updates often show what a person was doing and when they were doing it. Photographs reveal "injured" plaintiffs doing yoga, running marathons, and going on adventure vacations. A combination of traditional discovery procedures and a thorough understanding of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act can serve as powerful tool in allowing attorneys to access this information. The primary question for attorneys is "How do attorneys ethically access information about plaintiffs and witnesses from Facebook?" To answer this question, Ms. Trimble examines recent case law in California, Virginia and Michigan, as well as an opinion letter from the Philadelphia Bar Association Professional Guidance Committee.

Please click here to read the article.

 

Commercial Litigation

Marie Trimble Holvick



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