WELCOME TO THE OFFICIAL RICHARD E GERSTEIN JUSTICE BUILDING BLOG. THIS BLOG IS DEDICATED TO JUSTICE BUILDING RUMOR, HUMOR, AND A DISCUSSION ABOUT AND BETWEEN THE JUDGES, LAWYERS AND THE DEDICATED SUPPORT STAFF, CLERKS, COURT REPORTERS, AND CORRECTIONAL OFFICERS WHO LABOR IN THE WORLD OF MIAMI'S CRIMINAL JUSTICE. THIS BLOG HAS BEEN CALLED "THE DEFINITIVE BLOG ON MIAMI CRIMINAL LAW" BY THE NY TIMES, THE WASHINGTON POST, THE POPE, AND DONALD TRUMP WHO ALSO ONCE SAID IT WAS "REALLY GREAT". POST YOUR COMMENTS, OR SEND RUMPOLE A PRIVATE EMAIL AT HOWARDROARK21@GMAIL.COM

Sunday, February 15, 2015

ROCK-A-ROBIN

Continuing our theme on social media and forgiveness, we highlight a NY Times Magazine article this week:  "How One Stupid Tweet Blew Up Justine Sacco's Life". 

The highlights in case you missed it as it unfolded:

Justine Sacco was 30 years old, a NY'er, and senior director of corporate communications for IAC.  Flying on her way to South Africa to meet her family, and clearly punchy from dozens of hours of airports and airplanes, she engaged in a series of dopey tweets like this:  "Chilly- cucumber sandwiches- bad teeth- Back In London!"  There was another one complaining about the body odor of a German gentleman in first class, and then finally, as she boarded her flight to South Africa and the last leg of her trip, the tweet that changed her life (for the worse) forever: "Going to Africa. Hope I don't get Aids. Just Kidding. I'm White!" 

By the time she landed, her twitter account was the number one trending account on Twitter world wide. Her phone had blown up. A high school friend she hadn't heard from in years texted her "I'm so sorry for you."  The Twitter-universe arranged for other tweeters to be at the airport and snap pictures of her in the terminal. In short order she was fired, shunned,  and pretty much had ruined her professional career in the blink of an eye. 

It was a stupid tweet, no doubt. But what happened to her, and the magazine article lists a few other shocking examples of social media wreaking people's lives, should cause anyone to think twice before ever tweeting  or posting anything on Facebook beyond a picture of a puppy and a kitten sleeping together. 

Who amongst us hasn't put their foot in their mouth? We remember that intense argument that unfolded in front of a federal judge a decade ago where in the heat of the moment we blurted out (to the judge) "just shut up for a moment"!. Whoops. The judge was a friend and actually leaned back in his/her chair and laughed and we took a break and of course we apologized and life went on. 
But what if a media outlet was covering the case and went with the headline on Twitter or Facebook "Lawyer tells judge to shut up!" ?? Would we have had to face that reputation in court for the next decade or so? 

Isn't our authoring of this blog enough to wreck our professional reputation  when we reveal ourselves ?(To recap, we have agreed to reveal our identity upon appointment to any court at the level of the 3rd DCA or higher, win the lottery, or retire, resign from the Bar, and move out of state. Don't expect a revelation anytime soon.) 

Like our previous post on the Brian Williams saga averred, there is a vicious and perverse pleasure people take in using the anonymity of the internet to destroy other people for the slightest comment, tweet, or post, that does not completely conform to the norms of our social ethics. It's why we had the foresight to start this blog anonymously several years ago. 

So be forewarned. That Tweet about the size of someone's ankles, that Facebook page relaying the stupid joke you heard in the bar ten minutes ago after your fifth shot of tequila, may well end your career. Something to think about. 

No court tomorrow. 


5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Open mouth, insert foot.

Anonymous said...

what you really gotta love are those idiots who send messages on Facebook documenting their day to day comings and goings. "I am in Federal Court." "Another jury trial tomorrow." "Waiting for the verdict." "Going to New Orleans." "Wow, 836 is wall to wall traffic." "I am eating fried shit at this new restaurant." Do we really care?

Anonymous said...

People need to chill out and stop the hypocritical political-correctness b.s.

Anonymous said...

Rump, I agree with you that we live in an unforgiving world, full of gotcha games. Redemption, mercy and forgiveness are relics of a bye-gone era.

However, I believe that one of the biggest drivers of this changed dynamic is the media. All of the media -- left, right, center. It doesn't matter. The media have no integrity. They lust after tragedy, conflict and violence. And, when they can't find it, they fabricate it. They are the ultimate players in the gotcha games.

Our news cycles are full cynical and twisted stories told through sound bites filled with faux outrage and manufactured controversy.

Anyone that has ever had a client that was accused of some horrific thing, which ultimately turned out to be either largely untrue or entirely untrue knows how interested in the media was in the salacious accusations up front, but really didn't care to the same degree when the facts proved it all to be exaggerated and false. Nevermind the fact, that they can't even get basic details about what is happening in court correct.

What about the client, who made a mistake? Who deserves a second chance? The media make it so difficult to put perspective on his case, because it sells far more ad space to put out sound bites of a horrible criminal getting "slapped on the wrist" than to tell the whole story.

What is a judge's biggest fear about doing the right thing in a case? Getting reversed or being targeted by the media? Take for example, a guy who deserves bond, or who deserves leniency at sentencing, but on whom the judges doesn't want to take the chance that he will do something violent when he gets out. What is the source of that fear? It's the fear of being plastered on the news as the judge who cut loose this horrible guy, who die these horrible things. That's it. There will be nothing about all the reasons why based on what the judge saw it may have been appropriate.

We have all seen these things happen.

Forgive me for not shedding a tear for Brian Williams, a guy who has made a name for himself based on good looks and the ability to read a teleprompter . . . and by unabashedly joining (and arguably leading) the pack of hyenas that will shred people for far lesser transgressions than his own.

That the same pack of hyenas -- his own pack of hyenas -- has turned on him, doesn't bother me in the least.

It makes me giggle a little.

Call me a bad person if you want.

Paul Petruzzi said...

And right now I'm bored at an airport replying to a douchebag hater. (See my facebook for further detail)