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Can the Defense have Access to Your Private Messaging via Facebook

Apr 17, 2015 | Medical Malpractice

You have decided to hire an attorney for your medical malpractice situation in New York. Additionally, you decide to "friend" this attorney on Facebook, and begin to private message him as a means of communication. Now, the defense asks for access to your Facebook page. Does this mean your private messages will become public?

Following an Attorney on Facebook and Communicating through Private Messaging

You are following your attorney on Facebook, and he reciprocates and does the same thing. It is very convenient to private message your attorney on Facebook, but during the course of your lawsuit the defense might want access to your Facebook page. Now you are worried because if the judge gives the defense access to your Facebook page, they are going to see all the private messages that you had in your communications with your attorney. Can the defense do this?

First, the defense has to have a good faith basis to request access to your Facebook page. If there are things that are inconsistent with what you have testified about, and now the defense has found comments online that clearly show that you were doing things that you claimed you were unable to do, then in all likelihood the judge will allow the defense to access your page.

Can the defense have access to your private messaging with your lawyer?

However, even with such permission, will the defense gain access to your private confidential communication with your lawyer? In reality, all communications between you and your lawyer are private and confidential. Now, if the judge provides access to your Facebook page to the defense, then it becomes a problem from a logistical standpoint. So you should try to separate out their ability to see your private conversations with your lawyer.

A logistical nightmare when you try to filter out those confidential conversations with your lawyer that the defense is not supposed to see, from everything else that they are now allowed to see.

Misguided Viewpoint

However, the reality is that all your conversations with your attorney are to remain confidential and private, and the defense will most likely never be able to see that information. Social media has become extremely popular, and there are people who use these platforms to communicate even with their attorneys. People think that their communications will have nothing to do with anybody’s access to them since they are private and confidential.

However, when the defense asks in good faith for access to your social media pages, you will be thinking hard about preventing them from obtaining access to your private messages. Even though the defense is not supposed to view your private messaging with your lawyer, it will be very difficult to segregate these conversations from the rest.

There could be instances where the defense might gain access to your private information, and you cannot do anything about it. Even though the defense might not be able to use such information as evidence during the trial, many of your secrets will be out and the defense will know what to focus on. Therefore, it is always better to stick to telephone conversations or using email when you are communicating with your lawyer. Once in a while you will speak with your attorney in person as well.