Trial By Media: When Facebook (NASDAQ: FB), Google, and Instagram Control the Dialogue

In criminal law, the Media plays a key role. Media, in particular, social media, can compromise a jury pool. What is said on Facebook can destroy a prosecutor’s career, and it can determine a judicial election. During Covid-19, the aspect of law being discussed in the media has developed into a sensation that has taken on a life of its own. To discuss this issue in more detail, we spoke to several of the top attorneys in the State of Michigan.

Matthew McManus is the Managing Member of McManus and Amadeo in Washtenaw County, Michigan. (www.Mcmanusamadeo.com).  McManus is known as one of the top business attorneys in Michigan, and he provided insight when he said, “In business, there is too much that is disclosed on social media. We often have partners that are ending a relationship and hurt feelings can be displayed on Facebook before placed into a motion. Client control is key with this issue which has been explosive since Covid-19.”

Jennifer Kelley is a Senior Associate for McManus and Amadeo and has evolved into a top-flight divorce attorney. (https://www.mcmanusamadeo.com/jennifer-kelley.html). Kelley spoke on the issue when she stated, “In divorce law, we see more emotions than in criminal law. We see people that feel like their life is being ripped apart, and they will generally confide in friends.  The friends often feel it is a good idea to discuss provide matters on Instagram. At our firm, we put a gag order on social media posts during a pending divorce.”

Christian Wiesenberg is the founder of the Fidelis Law Firm and the Executive Director of the Adolescent Redemption Project. (https://www.adolescentredemptionproject.org/board-of-directors/). Wiesenberg is a top criminal attorney in Livingston County, Michigan, and added, “The Livingston Daily” does excellent coverage of trials in Howell, Michigan.  (https://www.livingstondaily.com/). I find them very diligent at their job and understand they have the power to affect cases. As an attorney, you always need to make yourself available to the press and respect their position.”

Ashlee Duplessis is the owner of Duplessis Law in Royal Oak, Michigan, and a top criminal litigator in Wayne and Oakland Counties.  (https://detroitlegaldefense.com/). Duplessis added, “The Detroit News” has covered many of my cases, and their paper and website have a broad readership. (https://www.detroitnews.com/). The power of the Media is vital in Detroit and Oakland County.”

Megan Mast is an Associate Attorney for Tannis-Schultz in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and one of the top criminal defense lawyers in Kent County.  (https://www.tanisschultz.com/about-us/megan-a-mast/). Mast said, “We live in a county where everything hits social media. Fax 17 of West Michigan plays a huge role in how legal events are portrayed. (https://www.fox17online.com/).  I always will make time for a journalist that is trying to do their job.”

William Amadeo is a Partner at McManus and Amadeo and arguably the top criminal defense lawyer in Michigan.  (https://www.linkedin.com/in/bill-amadeo-5031a925/). Amadeo stated, “Media lives in two forms. We have the written word and we have television. All of this becomes a collision course of sorts on social media. As for the written word, Josh Champlin of “The Argus-Press” is one of the most powerful writers I have seen. (https://www.argus-press.com/). He is a passionate writer, and his pen is mightier than most. As for television, Kim Russell of WXYZ is a fair and objective reporter, and she is one of the hardest workers I have seen.  (https://www.wxyz.com/kim-russell). She is truly objective, but people will listen to Kim’s stories with a keen eye and pick sides based upon such. Reporters such as Champlin and Russell are crucial to the criminal justice system and play a vital role in public perception.”

While the media has always played an essential role in our justice system, Covid-19 and social media have taken the news to a different level.  For the attorneys in the center of attention, playing a role in the media and knowing how to answer questions when asked and when not to answer questions is a vital element of the job. However, doing so correctly will help your client falter, leading to destroying your case.

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