A DISCUSSION OF LAW AND JOURNALISM

Tag: Social Media

Some Legal Advice for Dr. Phil

By Courtney Weinstein 

When I hear the word “alcohol,” I think of good times, socializing, and letting my hair down. The word “sex” for most of us connotes pleasure, reproduction, and maybe even love. While these associations are all positive, we have to consider the devastating truth of what sometimes happens when alcohol and sex are combined.

Rape.

It has been estimated that 25 percent of American women have experienced sexual assault. That number is astounding. What I was not aware of until recently is that approximately half of those cases involve alcohol consumption, by either the victim, the perpetrator, or both.

In August, one of the best-known television personalities, Dr. Phil, took a poll via Twitter. His tweet: “If a girl is drunk, is it OK to have sex with her? Reply yes or no to @drphil #teenaccused.” We don’t know the result of the poll because the tweet was deleted after people expressed anger and outrage by his seeming flippancy on a sensitive subject.

As clumsy as the tweet may have been, the question that was raised is an important one. When does the combination of alcohol and sex negate consent?

LASIS goes where the Twitter-sphere feared to venture.

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The Definition of Chutzpah?

By Zachary Edelman

The prospect of having a second, third or fourth home is alien to many of us on tight budgets. But get this, there are gorgeous mansions sitting on acres upon acres of land all across the country that sit furnished, vacant and vulnerable for months of the year.

Some teenagers must have wondered what it would be like see life as Jay Gatsby, even if just for a few hours, because on August 31 former NFL Lineman Brian Holloway, who was at his home in Lutz, Florida, was alerted to a party going on at his rural vacation home in the foothills of the Berkshire Mountains. And what a party it was. Walls inside the house were spray-painted, the floor was peed on, furniture was broken and personal possessions were stolen, causing up to $40,000 in damages.

For a country outraged over revelations that the NSA tracks our every move, we sure don’t make it difficult for the government (or anyone else) to see exactly what we are up to; we broadcast to the world our every moment via one social media site or another. The teens who ransacked Mr. Holloway’s home were no different, taking and posting and tweeting and Instagram-ing dozens of photos of themselves cavorting and drinking and drugging inside Mr. Holloway’s (extra) house.

Mr. Holloway was angry, as any homeowner in his situation would be, and created a website aggregating all the evidence of revelry that evening adding the partiers names to the tweets and pictures. Mr. Holloway, who has worked with the substance abuse prevention program D.A.R.E., lists one main objective on his website– to turn the incident into a force for good by allowing the still impressionable youths to redeem themselves and reject the path of drinking, drugs, crime and violence.

Mr. Holloway must have suffered a concussion or two during his NFL career, because he is delusional if he thinks teenagers who break into a vacant house to party are going to change their ways as the result of a website. His invitation to the hellions to help him clean his house fell on mostly deaf ears; only five teens — of nearly 300 –showed up to help him clean the mess.

If you’re thinking the kids didn’t show up because they were grounded, think again. In fact, their parents are mad – even livid. But not at them. At Mr. Holloway. The indignant parents have threatened to hurt Mr. Holloway; at the very least, they are threatening to sue. (Some people might call this the very definition of “chutzpah”). Reposting the photos and identifying the culprits, they say, could “ruin their kids’ college plans.”

Lots of reports out there, but no analysis of the merits of the potential lawsuits against Mr. Holloway.  LASIS investigates.

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Unlike Trix, Social Media Isn’t Just for Kids…

By Chris Cotter

Social media is the new black. As of September, Facebook boasted 88.3 million unique US users (a surprising 38% of whom are over 35). From February 2008 through February 2009, Twitter’s user base grew  a whopping 1382%. And if you’ve spent more than ten minutes on the web, you already know that there’s a blog for just about everything you can imagine. What’s funny is, we Americans would sooner give a kidney than our “sensitive” personal information. Yet, many of us freely post photos, videos and comments all over social media platforms, just as freely as we shake hands. Every day, millions of Americans delightedly navigate websites of great social and political import, blissfully unaware of the digital autobiography they are leaving behind. But while they may not be cognizant of the value of their interactions with the web, some very powerful people are, and as an attorney, you should be too.

DecisionQuest, Inc. provides a number of litigation support services to law firms, one of which is jury research. On November 17, one of DecisionQuest’s “social media experts,” Christine Martin came to speak at New York Law School about how social media research can help during the jury selection phase of litigation.

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