FEBRUARY  2015

    

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New Media & the Courts Resources

IN THIS ISSUE

​​That :) can get you into trouble in a court of law

  
You may want to think before you type :) or :(. Today, emojis are a common form of communication, and because we use them so often, they are being included as evidence in several court cases across the country. According to an article on Wired.com, several arrests and prosecutions have included emojis. In one recent case, a Pennsylvania man who was convicted for using Facebook posts to threaten his ex-wife, has said that a threatening post toward her was clearly meant in “jest” because he included a smiley sticking its tongue out :P. Greg Hurley, an analyst for the National Center for State Courts, states, “To me, emoji are no different than drug slang in a criminal controlled substances case. They may need some interpretation in some situations, in others the content may be obvious.”

Prisoner gets 37 years of solitary confinement for 38 Facebook posts

   
In the South Carolina Department of Corrections (SCDC), the punishment for a prisoner using social media is significant. The Electronic Frontier Foundation used South Carolina’s Freedom of Information Act to discover nearly 400 cases have been brought against inmates since the SCDC declared “creating and/or assisting with a social networking site” a level-one offense in 2012. Each time an inmate accesses Facebook is counted as a separate Level 1 violation, which leads to punishments like inmates being sentenced to isolation for years at a time, the report said. A SocialTimes article revealed that one inmate received more than 37 years in solitary confinement for 38 posts on Facebook.

Realtor sues Yelp for help

   

A Texas realtor claims he lost big business because of a negative comment on Yelp. Now he is suing the social media network to learn who made the online comment about him. Yelp users are anonymous and freedom of speech protects anonymous comments. An attorney for Yelp argued that the realtor must prove the statements written about him are false before a judge can force Yelp to hand over the user’s identity. A judge is set to make a ruling next month.


Pretty little tweets of love

Two courts posted some sweet tweets this Valentine’s Day.  The D.C. Superior Court announced via Twitter that they would be performing 14 weddings on Saturday, February 14, Valentine’s Day. Court News Ohio shared four bittersweet love stories of judicial couples currently on the bench.


Social media tip of the month—it's all in the timing


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Please e-mail Deirdre Roesch.