October 15, 2007

From probation to prison thanks to MySpace?

As you read here at A&C last month, from today's
National Law Journal (link via UW's Trial Ad Notes):

Lawyers in civil and criminal cases are increasingly finding that social networking sites can contain treasure chests of information for their cases. Armed with printouts from sites such as Facebook and MySpace, attorneys have used pictures, comments and connections from these sites as powerful evidence in the courtroom.

"It's going to be more and more helpful in the future," said Mark Diebolt, a deputy county attorney in Pima County, Ariz... Diebolt said an eyewitness recently identified a first-degree murder suspect in a group photograph posted on MySpace... D. Jesse Smith, a solo practitioner in Tucson, Ariz., said... (i)n a recent misdemeanor assault case..., he was able to prove someone other than his client was the aggressor who started the fight because his MySpace page contained a video of him beating someone up...

One defense lawyer said that... the judge relied heavily on MySpace to decide on his client's sentence. Steve Balash of Santa Barbara... said that Jessica Binkerd was sentenced in January to five years and four months in prison after she drove under the influence of alcohol and got into a crash in which her passenger was killed. Balash said he expected Binkerd to get probation, but she received a prison sentence in large part because her MySpace page showed her wearing an outfit with shot glasses and an alcohol advertisement after the accident...

Why, just today outside the courtroom here, one teenager's parent was talking about wanting to sue the cops for invasion of privacy, because they printed out the teenager's (incriminating) MySpace pages.