Jun 11, 2010

Judge Proposes Facebook to Resolve Discovery Dispute

Eric Goldberg''s Technology & Marketing Law Blog reports on a federal magistrate in Tennessee who has proposed an innovative way to resolve a discovery dispute in a personal injury case. (The case is actually a little sexier than that: the plaintiff fell while dancing on the bar at the "Coyote Ugly" tavern in Nashville.)

Since the parties could not agree on discovery of Facebook information of the plaintiff and her witnesses, so that the defense could access pictures of the incident posted on the social networking site, Magistrate Joe B. Brown proposed an innovative solution:

In order to try to expedite further discovery regarding the photographs, their captions, and comments, the Magistrate Judge is willing to create a Facebook account. If [plaintiff] Julie Knudsen and [witness] Michael Vann will accept the Magistrate Judge as a “friend” on Facebook for the sole purpose of reviewing photographs and related comments in camera, he will promptly review and disseminate any relevant information to the parties. The Magistrate Judge will then close this Facebook account.

Barnes v. CUS Nashville, LLC, Civil No. 09-00764 (M.D. Tenn. June 3, 2010), slip op. at 2.

In the past, I've written on some of the issues presented to the judicial process when trial participants, such as jurors and judges, use social media to comment on a trial.

But Magistrate Brown has shown that innovative use of these tools can actually serve as a tool towards facilitating the trial process.