Smart Lawyers, Dumb Passwords

Do you use passwords such as “password,” “loveyou,” or 1234567?  Apparently most of us do.  Even if you have a pretty good password plan for multiple Internet accounts, check out this month’s article, “Smart Lawyers, Dumb Passwords” in the Palm Beach County Bar Association Bulletin (April 2011).


The Woes of Citing Wikipedia in Court Pleadings

In a federal court case out of Kentucky, defense counsel reportedly cribbed portions of the brief from… Wikipedia.  And then from a Federal Judicial Handbook.  Both times without proper citation. Before getting to the orders, we note the case has the narrowest connection to Florida. In a February 2011 order, …


Florida Paralegal Ethics

Thanks to the Paralegal Association of Florida for inviting me to speak at their 2010 Fall Seminar in West Palm Beach. The powerpoint can be found here or using the link under “Materials” on the right column of this website. The free legal ethics iPhone app is here.


Florida JEAC Opinion Allows Judicial Assistants to “Facebook Friend” Lawyers

We previously mentioned the infamous? Judicial Ethics Advisory Opinion 2009-20 which prohibits a judge from “friending” lawyers who appear before the court.  That’s so 2009. The next logical question for judicial social networking policies has arrived: does this apply to the JA? Yes, at least in part.  A judicial assistant …


False YouTube Ad and Padded Resume Leads to Reprimand of Florida Judge

The Supreme Court of Florida commanded Leon County Circuit Court Judge Angela Dempsey to appear for a public reprimand due to (1) a YouTube election advertisement entitled “re-elect” when she had been previously appointed to the bench and (2) a flyer claiming she had 20 years of legal experience when …


JEAC Enters Ethics Fray Over Judges and Facebook… But Florida Wasn’t the First

As has been recently well-hyped, there are certain restrictions on Florida judge’s use of social networks.  It apparently took awhile for everyone to notice a November 17 Judicial Ethics Advisory Committee report but once the New York Times got a hold of it nearly a month later on December 10, …


Can You Twitter from a Courtroom?

The answer is a mixed bag, with the least favorable outcomes in federal court under the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure. In a recent federal criminal case in Georgia, the Judge in U.S. v. John Mark Shelnutt wrote that, “the request to ‘tweet’ from the courtroom is denied.  According to …


Can a Lawyer Get a Copy of a Transcript Without Paying Court Reporter? (The Debate Continues)

There is often an unspoken understanding that lawyers who attend hearings which are transcribed need to pay the court reporter to get a copy. Thus, if there are 10 parties to a lawsuit and everyone wants a copy of a 15-minute hearing transcript, court reporters often take the position that …


Privileged Documents Sent to Expert Not Waived?

Because so many people are involved in the everyday step of sending records from a law office to an expert, the mistake of inadvertantly including privileged information occurs now and again.  Is it waiver?  Will the jury see it? In Nan H. Mullins, D.M.D. v. Alice Tompkins (Benton, Webster and …


Can You Post a Video Deposition on YouTube?

The Internet has invigorated questions about depositions which has laid fairly dormant for years: who “owns” a deposition video or transcript?  Is it public record? Ever considered posting a video deposition on YouTube?  Is that allowed?  A quick search suggests there’s more than two thousand video depos on YouTube. We’re …


How Should A Judge Instruct A Jury Not to Text, Twitter or Google?

Look no further than our brethren in Michigan, who hustled out a June 30, 2009 order providing the anti-Twittering jury instruction for trial judges.  The rule goes into effect in September. No, it may not be required here in Florida yet, but isn’t it a good idea?  Why not offer …


Lawyer Cannot Ask Paralegal to “Facebook Friend” A Witness

After the flood  of attention which lawyers and the media have recently paid to social networking sites, the next logical emphasis will be the ethical use, and mis-use, of such sites by lawyers. Trying to jump start that inquiry, in Internet Social Networking Sites For Lawyers, we hinted at the risks …