A Miami-Dade judge declared a mistrial in a murder case after a defense lawyer posted a photo of her client’s leopard-print underwear on Facebook, according to the Miami Herald.
The defendant in a murder trial accused of stabbing his girlfriend to death received clothes from his family to wear during trial. When Miami-Dade corrections officers lifted up the pieces for a routine inspection, his public defender snapped a photo of the defendant’s briefs with her cellphone. While on a break, the lawyer posted the photo on her personal Facebook page with a caption suggesting the client’s family believed the underwear was “proper attire for trial.”
Although her Facebook page is private and can only be viewed by her friends, somebody who saw the posting notified Miami-Dade Judge Leon Firtel, who declared a mistrial the Herald reported. The public defender was immediately fired. A new trial date, with a new lawyer, has yet to be set.
This case serves as yet another reminder of how attorneys must use social media responsibly in their cases. I attended law school with the public defender in this case. This situation demonstrates that even bright and talented attorneys can derail a successful legal career in a moment of poor judgment. Law firms must continue to educate their attorneys, staff, and clients how social media can severely impact their cases and careers, both inside and outside the courtroom.