Several years ago, I tried a custody case where the husband used crude, abusive and offensive language in texts to my client, his wife. We printed out the texts and, when the husband took the stand, I had him read the worst of them to the judge. The judge’s ruling in favor of my client was based largely on his disgust with this abusive language and what it told him about how the husband would portray his wife to their children. Emails and other social media have been used as evidence in other types of cases as well – a picture truly is worth a thousand words.
People seem to forget that emails, texts, pictures and YouTube videos are potentially just as permanent and damaging evidence as letters or other written documents. Maybe it’s because you can delete them from your computer or phone. They just don’t seem as permanent as something you put on paper. But unless the recipient deletes them as well, they can be put into evidence for the judge, jury and everyone else to see and they can be devastating.
So if you are my client, don’t send abusive emails or texts. For goodness sake, don’t publish unflattering pictures or videos. Of course, if you are on the other side, by all means type or film exactly what you feel – you’ll make my job a whole lot easier.