OMG, It Wasn’t Like She Was ROFL

Social media once again has reared its ugly head in a court proceeding. Rather than a witless juror spoiling jury selection or forcing a mistrial, this time we have a case involving a DUI defendant who earned some extra time behind bars based on an ill-conceived Facebook post.

Facing four separate charges in a hit-and-run crash, defendant Paula Asher, 18, of Woodford County, Ky., vented on her Facebook page: “My dumb bass got a DUI and I hit a car…LOL.” The “LOL” term is, of course, online shorthand for “laughing out loud.” (Not sure what “dumb bass” is, but we presume that the second “b” was unintended and she was not referring to her pet fish or a musical instrument.) 

The parents of the teens who were in the car that Asher allegedly hit didn’t take kindly to the flippant post, and alerted Judge Mary Jane Phelps, who ordered Asher to delete her Facebook page. When Asher ignored the court’s order, she was charged with contempt and sentenced to two days in the county jail.

After emerging from her 48-hour stay behind bars, Asher apologized to the court and others involved. Hers is only the latest example of a social media meltdown interfering with the wheels of justice, but others are sure to follow. After all, people have always said dumb things, but technology now allows us to post them online where they can enjoy a much wider audience, which just might include your judge.     


Posted: 11/1/2012 12:00:00 AM by Editor | with 0 comments

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Thanks for stopping by On the Merits, the first blog from the Texas Center for Legal Ethics. On the Merits will take a close look at significant legal stories with an eye toward addressing the legal myths and misconceptions that turn up in news stories, movies, TV programs, websites, anonymous emails and other forms of mass communications. Our goal at On the Merits is to provide readers with a thoughtful examination of what the media and others are saying about the legal profession and to apply the frequently-absent context of how the legal system actually works.

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