Text, email, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram…blogs like this one. Just like the old warning to proceed with caution when writing something on paper, so should one hesitate before firing off that text or making that post.
In reality, however, the lure of the instant communication undermines the cautionary spirit. Part of the joy of text, email, or social media is the real-time contact with others. Generally, personal choice dictates discretion. How do you want to be perceived by anyone who accesses social media? By anyone who might read your texts or emails? We’ve heard the warnings about potential employers scouring social media; whether we heed them or not depends on our level of risk tolerance.
However, in the legal realm, the risk might mean more than being passed up for a job. In fact, two former Anheuser-Busch employees are suing the company for wrongful termination. Apparently, the iMessage system transferred text messages onto a company iPad, including disparaging comments about a co-worker. No worries. Until the employee received an iPad upgrade and his old iPad with the messages went to…the same co-worker.
Attorneys for the employees claim wrongful termination in light of public policy—that people shouldn’t be fired for what they say in their own homes. However, as technology increasingly carries the day for both business and personal communication, so has the legal field adapted. Posts, emails, texts—all can be admitted into evidence. Two elements must be established for admission: foundation and authentication. Basically, is this what it’s said to be and did this person actually write it? It seems like a challenge, but the ABA has trended toward evaluating electronic evidence with the same standards as pen and paper evidence.
The take-away? A writing is still forever. Texts and posts, tweets and emails can all be used in a court battle. It’s a good idea to think before you…write. Or post. Or tweet.
Jeff Krigel is an attorney in Tulsa who focuses his practice on criminal defense. The Jeff Krigel Law firm is a full-service Oklahoma law firm dedicated to achieving your legal goals in a competent, trusting, and result oriented manner. The firm is based in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and handles criminal defense, as well as other legal matters in all Oklahoma Counties. If you have been accused of a crime, it is important to seek the help of a qualified attorney. We offer free consultations and have payment plans available. There is no reason not speak with someone regarding your case. If you have questions regarding your specific Tulsa drug possession case, or any other criminal matter, call for a free consultation. 918-994-2340