Sunday, November 16, 2014

Deposition Tweeting

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.

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