Everyone knows that Illinois prohibits tweeting
while operating a motor vehicle. 625 ILCS 5/12-610.2 (here)
bans the use of any electronic communication device when driving. Avid cyclists
also know that a Chicago ordinance (here) prohibits tweeting while
operating a bicycle. Going a step further, one judge believes that lawyers
should not tweet while conducting a deposition.
According to an ABA Journal article (here),
a Texas state court judge has barred live tweets during the deposition of a
former county sheriff who is being sued for allegedly receiving illegal
campaign contributions. Lamenting the lack of guidance on the live-tweeting issue,
the judge accurately observed that “[o]ur technology is far out pacing our
ability to formulate rules.”
If an Illinois judge allowed the tweeting of
deposition testimony, Illinois Rule of Professional Conduct 1.6(a) would
require that the tweeting lawyer first obtain her client’s informed consent.
Rule 1.6(a) prohibits an attorney from revealing information relating to the
representation of a client without the client’s informed consent. That
prohibition applies to all information regarding the representation and is not
limited to secret or confidential information, or information received from the
client. And even if an Illinois judge does
permit deposition tweeting and a client is willing to consent, hopefully counsel
will devote his time and energy at the deposition to adequately representing
his client rather than to keeping his “followers” updated or entertained.
In the late 1800s, New Hampshire enacted legislation
prohibiting voters from showing their completed ballots to anyone for the purpose
of proving how they voted. The statute sought to address the apparently widespread
problem of politicians purchasing votes for their candidates. Effective September
1, 2014, the New Hampshire legislature updated the law to
specifically prohibit persons from “taking a digital image or photograph of his
or her marked ballot and distributing or showing the image via social media or
by any other means.” The American Civil Liberties Union has filed suit
claiming that the law violates the First Amendment.
Illinois does not have a similar statute. Section
29-9 of the Illinois Election Code makes it a Class 4 felony for a person
his ballot or cast his vote on a voting machine or voting device so that it
can be observed by another person.” Section 29-9 also prohibits anyone from knowingly
observing a voter marking a ballot. And while a Peoria Journal Star
it might be a violation of this statute to take a photograph of a completed
ballot and then post it on social media, that interpretation seems strained. The statute is clearly intended to prevent a person
from standing in such proximity to a voter in the polling place so as to allow observation
of the actual act of voting. The law does not mention displaying a completed
ballot after the fact. Even a New York law that specifically prohibits showing a marked ballot to
another has reportedly been interpreted by
lawyers of the New York State Board of Elections as not prohibiting the posting
of a ballot photograph on Facebook.
Whether legal or illegal under the
Election Code, people might consider the advisability of displaying their
voting record on the internet in perpetuity.