October 23, 2009

Judicious Blogging

Posted in Best practices, Courts and social media, Criminal activity, Productivity, Social Media Tools tagged , , , , , at 12:49 pm by bizlawblog

The impact of social networking has been increasing rapidly on the court system. The range is broad, to say the least.

Nearly a year ago, an Australian court approved a lawyer’s request to use Facebook to serve court documents after several failed attempts by other methods, including a personal visit and attempted service by e-mail. Australian courts had previously given permission to servie people via e-mail and text messages when other forms of personal service had proven unsuccessful. In this case, the Australian judge said
“It’s somewhat novel, however we do see it as a valid method of bringing the matter to the attention of the defendant”

Nearly a year ago, an Australian court approved a lawyer’s request to use Facebook to serve court documents after several failed attempts by other methods, including a personal visit and attempted service by e-mail. Australian courts had previously given permission to serve people via e-mail and text messages when other forms of personal service had proven unsuccessful. In this case, the Australian judge said:

“It’s somewhat novel, however we do see it as a valid method of bringing the matter to the attention of the defendant”

You’ve been served … on Facebook

On the other side of judicious blogging, the Associated Press reports that a blogger has just been released on $500,000 bond, after he was accused of threatening judges and legislators in two states. He allegedly posted threats against Connecticut legislators and wrote that three federal judges in Illinois deserved to die, after they had declined in a recent court ruling to overturn laws banning handguns in the Chicago area.

According to the AP story:

The blogger, Hal Turner, in a June 2 Web posting on the same day of the ruling, called the decision an “outrage” and said that the judges “deserve to be killed.” The complaint charged him with threatening to assault and murder the judges in retaliation for performing their official duties.

Blogger Charged With Threatening to Kill Three Federal Judges

The blogger’s attorneys say he merely gave his opinion, which was protected free speech, but a U.S. Department of Justice press release gave a different point of view. It reported some of the early investigative findings which indicated the defendant’s blog referenced that the 7th Circuit had issued an opinion in National Rifle Association v. Chicago.

“Apparently, the 7th U.S. Circuit court didn’t get the hint after those killings,” Turner said in his posting. “It appears another lesson is needed.”

Turner’s postings also included a photo of the Dirksen Federal Building in Chicago where the judges work, and included arrows pointing to “anti-truck bomb barriers” that surround the courthouse building, plus a map of the location of the building, federal prosecutors said in the complaint.

At least some members of the judiciary must feel it is better to post than to be posted about. According to a New Jersey Judiciary press release:

The Judiciary is taking advantage of the latest media developments to keep the public informed of the latest court developments.  Now, lawyers, litigants, law enforcement, state agencies, reporters and others can obtain up-to-the-minute court news and information on their cell phones as well as online.

“Our court users rely heavily on social media to stay informed and connected.  We are responding to their expectations for timely information that maximizes the convenience of the Internet and of cell phones and other devices,” said Judge Glenn A. Grant, acting administrative director of the courts.

Court users can sign up for breaking news alerts via short message service (SMS) text alerts on their cell phones.  Users sign up for the service through a link on the Judiciary home page, njcourts.com.  The text messages will announce unscheduled court closings and other high priority information so that users who are not in the office or at home in front of their computers will receive the information in real time on their cell phones.  The Judiciary also has begun using Twitter to send short “tweets” about breaking court news.  To sign up for either of these options, users can click on the SMS or Twitter links on the Judiciary home page.  Those links will take them to the appropriate Web sites to sign up for those services.

What is the judiciary up to, trying to communicate in real time? If you’d like to tweet with the New Jersey judiciary, try http://twitter.com/njcourts.

That’s what I think. Please leave a comment and let us know what you think.

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