Judge Orders Divorce Couple to Turn Over Facebook Password to Lawyers

    December 5, 2011

    A Connecticut judge has ordered lawyers representing a divorcing couple to exchange passwords to their clients’ Facebook and dating websites, the ABA reports.

    Judge Kenneth Schluger ordered the password exchange in the divorce of Stephen and Courtney Gallion. The judge cautioned in a Sept. 30 order that the exchange should be carried out by the lawyers, and neither spouse may post messages purporting to be the other.

    Stephen Gallion’s lawyer, Gary Traystman, told the blog his client believes the social networking accounts will provide evidence about Courtney Gallion’s ability to take care of their children. Stephen Gallion is arguing for full custody.

    This order is another recent example of judges using creativity to balance the need to access discoverable information with a litigant’s privacy concerns.  Generally, judges will resolve discovery disputes by ordering that a party physically produce relevant information in litigation.  It is not common for judge’s to simply give access to the opposing party’s online profiles. By providing the password only to the opposing party’s lawyer, and not the opposing party, this judge has fastened a creative solution to discover potentially relevant information without providing unfettered access to the intimate details of a party’s private life.

    This order is reminiscent of a situation I read where a judge created his own Facebook page to view a social media account in camera. I’ll do some digging this evening and post about that decision tomorrow.


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