Put Your Best Face Forward

An open records request by the Associated Press revealed that an elected District Attorney from Wisconsin sent sexually suggestive text messages to a domestic violence victim according to a story in the Houston Chronicle. Aside from the inappropriate and potentially unethical behavior, the story is a good demonstration of what not to do in today's information age. Emails recovered through an open records request revealed damaging emails regarding the texts.

If we allow it, our information is in the public for everyone to see. If you are charged with a crime, you must be proactive in removing yourself from potentially incriminating information about yourself. For example, if you are charged with a DWI and you have a Facebook or MySpace account with pictures of yourself drinking, remove them. The pictures do not make you guilty, but could potentially be used against you.

How? Pretty easy by a savvy prosecutor. First they get the pictures on line. Then during cross- examination of you or one of your friends, they ask about your drinking habits. The answer is something to the effect that you don't drink much. The pictures are of an obviously intoxicated you, tailgating at a football game last weekend. The prosecutor then asks about picture. Obviously, your attorney should be jumping up and down objecting to improper impeachment and relevance in addition to authentication of the photo, but I would bet that most Harris County judges would let it in claiming it is relevant and its cross examination anyway and taking judicial notice of the website as they do with google maps.

I witnessed a similar tactic used in a murder trial this week  where a prosecutor back doored a defendant's tattoos of guns, by asking if he liked guns. The answer was yes and the prosecutor was allowed to discuss the tattoos,  that in my opinion had no relevance, into trial. As a side note, the defense attorney did a great job and his client was found not guilty. 

The lesson is, don't put yourself in a worse position that you are already in. You are innocent until proven guilty, but you if you make yourself look guilty, a jury will not have a problem finding you guilty.