We’ve all heard and seen some crazy and ridiculous stories about people posting inappropriate pictures on Facebook. Many people post their entire life on Facebook, from their wedding day, to their dog, to their breakfast lunch and dinner, to their child’s birth, to their kids first day at school, to pictures of them in their bikinis! Although these pictures are sometimes out of place, I can’t hold it against them. They are allowed to post their own pictures on their own Facebook pages. However, what gets to me the most is when people post other peoples private photos on their Facebook. What’s even worse is when lawyers post their client’s pictures on their own Facebook pages. That’s when I think the line is completely crossed!
This brings me to Anya Cintron Stern, an assistant Public Defender in Miami. Stern apparently posted a photo of her client, Fermin Recalde’s, leopard-print underwear on her personal Facebook page. Evidently, there was also another Facebook posting made by her which apparently called his innocence into question. Recalde has been on trial in Florida for a murder. On numerous occasions he had tried to get a new public defender to replace Stern, but was denied all times. However, after the picture of his undies was posted on his attorney’s Facebook page, not only did he get a new public defender, his attorney got fired and the judge also declared a mistrial in the case.
Breach of Professional Rules of Responsibility
An attorney owes his client a number of duties, which if breached, may result in discipline for the attorney or at times disbarment. The American Bar Association calls these rules the Rules of Professional Conduct.
Public Defender Carlos Martinez told the Miami Herald newspaper, “When a lawyer broadcasts disparaging and humiliating words and pictures, it undermines the basic client relationship and it gives the appearance that he is not receiving a fair trial.” In my opinion, Stern’s actions violate a number of these ethical rules, including duties of confidentiality, loyalty, trial publicity, competence, due diligence, zealous representation, and maintaining the integrity of the profession.
We should all be aware of our rights in dealing with an attorney. To learn more about the ethical duties a lawyer owes his client, click here.
For all you lawyers out there, there is a lesson to be learned from all this: Don’t post photos of your client's underwear on Facebook! Let your client’s “briefs” remain in the courtroom.
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