How Unmoderated Social Media Activity
Gives Defendants the Upper Hand

Should there be a limit to which parties involved in a given case can use social media? Can social media activities be a threat to justice? We cannot avoid these questions in this era where social media occupies a huge portion of our day-to-day lives, judicial processes included.

Social media plays a critical role in shaping public opinion, which in turn can affect the impartiality of a judicial process. Additionally, social media posts, including personal opinions or statements, can serve as part of the evidence used by the attorneys on behalf of the plaintiff or defendant during the hearing.

According to the legal experts at Reiner, Slaughter & Frankel law firm, here are some of the ways in which unmoderated social media activity can give defendants the upper hand.

Obstruction of Justice Through Intimidation and Harassment of Witnesses

Through posts on different social media platforms, defendants can carry out targeted campaigns with the aim of achieving three things:

  • Silencing dissenting voices
  • Tarnishing the credibility of important witnesses
  • Discouraging people from coming up with information relevant to the case

By doing these, they can create an environment of fear, eventually compromising the integrity of the legal process.

Key witnesses will either shy away from coming to testify during trials or will be unwilling to share certain crucial information, as discouraged on social media.

Therefore, your attorney will seek the court’s help to protect the witness by issuing orders to moderate the defendants’ social activities. You can rest assured that your case will not suffer the risk of witnesses’ failure to testify or their unwillingness to share certain information.

Compromising the Impartiality of the Judicial Process

Social media provides a platform for defendants to employ jury tampering and pretrial publicity tactics to compromise the impartiality of jurors’ decisions. Some of the activities that form part of jury tampering include:

  • Covert communication: Contacting jurors outside the courtroom to influence their decision.
  • Threats and Intimidation: Instilling fear in the jurors to reach a specific verdict.
  • Bribery: Offering incentives such as money or any other gifts to jurors to get a favorable ruling.

Any of these activities, if successful, can sway the jury’s decision in favor of the defendants. The character attack of the witnesses and prosecution is one of the pretrial publicity tactics that defendants can use to change the course of a judicial process. The aim of using this approach is to shape public opinion in their favor by assassinating the credibility of some of the key witnesses and jurors.

Challenges to the Preservation of Evidence

Unmoderated social media activity makes it difficult to control the dissemination of sensitive information relating to legal proceedings.

For example, defendants can share some evidence and openly defy court orders through social media when they know that such actions have no immediate consequences. The effects of these include:

  • Undermined the court’s authority
  • Impended administration of justice

When this happens, the integrity of the entire legal process becomes questionable, making the enforcement of legal mandates difficult. Failure to enforce certain legal mandates benefits the defendants, who suffer no legal consequences for their actions.

Unmoderated Social Media Activities is Poison to Legal Processes

Whenever defendants have the upper hand in any case proceedings, the possibility of justice being served tends to be lower.

Intimidation or harassment of witnesses, a common result of unmoderated social media activity, can give defendants the upper hand.

Most law firms recognize the impact of unmoderated social media activity and advocate for witness protection throughout the case proceedings.

Other than intimidation of witnesses, failure to moderate defendants’ social media activities paves the way for compromised impartiality in the legal process. Social media provides platforms for covert

communication, bribery, and threats to the jurors, which can influence the case’s verdict.