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Lawyer Disbarred For Unethical Use Of Social Media

Scales of justice with social media iconsLawyers really should learn how to use technology, particularly social media, appropriately.  We read story after story about lawyers getting into trouble for tweeting, how a blog post jeopardizes a lawyer’s career or reputation, or simply how a lawyer’s use of social media is in plain bad taste.

Enter the latest example in this string of lawyers using new technology unwisely.  According to an article from the ABA Journal, a Louisiana lawyer, Joyce Nanine McCool, has been disbarred by that state’s Supreme Court for using Twitter and an online petition-signing drive to influence the actions of two judges in a custody case.  McCool tweeted

McCool argued that her use of social media was protected speech under the First Amendment.  In a 4-3 ruling, the Court characterized McCool’s argument as an “artful” attempt to use the First Amendment as a shield against “clearly and convincingly proven ethical misconduct.”  The Court went on to write that McCool showed an “utter lack of remorse” and that her social media postings contained “false, misleading and inflammatory statements” about the way the two judges handled the case.

Notably, McCool apparently tweeted that the judges refused to admit certain evidence in the case when the evidence had not even been presented.  She also encouraged readers of her social media posting to contact the judges directly to express their feelings about the case.

Like so many of the other stories of lawyers behaving badly with social media, let McCool’s fate serve as a cautionary tale – be careful what you post on social media.  It could come back to haunt – or even disbar – you.

You can read the full text of the ABA Journal article here.



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