As the use of social media continues to skyrocket and develop, so do the challenges that employers, especially governmental entities, face. Social media is having an increased, powerful impact in the U.S. legal environment. For municipal employers in particular, more and more lawsuits involving law enforcement are being tried in the court of public opinion. What seemed novel in 1991 with the Rodney King video has now evolved to live video streaming on Facebook of the aftermath of a police encounter in Minnesota. Social media has is truly changing the landscape. Lawsuits are now being filed alleging First Amendment violations over recording of police encounters as well. How can employers and municipalities in general, best handle these issues? This panel will focus on the interaction between video and social media, primarily in the context of defending governmental entities and their officers; however this topic applies to several practice areas and the defense of various types of clients. We will also discuss the limitations and benefits of video recordings, timing of releases, live-streaming, impact of coverage by national media, the impact on average citizens who may later become jurors, and best practices regarding these issues.
- Many courts have held that individuals have a First Amendment right to record/videotape in a public places, especially when one is recording public servants, including the police; however, some courts have found that there is no such right to record unless it is accompanied a “challenge or criticism” of the police conduct.
- The use of video has been increasingly used to assist police departments in obtaining summary judgment in some excessive force cases and can be effectively used to obtain pre-suit settlements through mediation.
- The use of video at trial comes with benefits and challenges, including hindsight bias and counterfactual thinking.
The 2017 CLM Annual Conference is being held at the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center in Nashville, TN, March 29-31, 2017.