Courts using Facebook profiles as evidence more often

Posting your life on Facebook may not be the wisest move for criminals and those in civil lawsuits. Courts are using the information from the social networking site more often as part of their evidence.
One such case is that of Dennis Terry, a Newfoundland man who was going for a settlement after suffering whiplash from two car accidents in 2001 and 2003. Terry was hoping to get money for the harm his social life suffered after the accidents. Terry also claimed that he was unable to move well enough to play pool, a favorite past time.

Enter to the court Terry’s Facebook profile that showed he wasn’t really sitting at home by his lonesome.

CTV reports:

“He went to and hosted parties, attended weekend outings at summer cabins, drank alcohol frequently, smoked marijuana daily and appeared to have a number of friends with whom he communicated and socialized on a regular basis,” Adams wrote in his April 17 ruling.

“I find it incredible that Mr. Terry’s social life miraculously improved in the few months he was communicating on Facebook and that for the remainder of the time from 2001 to 2007 he essentially had no or little social life. Without this evidence, I would have been left with a very different impression of Mr. Terry’s social life.”

Terry had been hoping for a $1.5 million payout, he was instead given $40,000 for his pain and suffering.

Facebook
was used in a trial in Australia recently when Mark McCormack used the social network to track down a couple that owed him money. When the couple moved and were unable to be contacted through regular means McCormack turned to Facebook and it provided. The documentation from Facebook was excepted by the courts because it included their names, dates of birth and listed each other as “friends”.

Slashdot reports:

“Lawyers for Janice Roman, the defendant in the lawsuit, believe information posted on John Leduc’s private Facebook site — normally accessible only to his approved ‘friends’ — may be relevant to his claim an accident in Lindsay in 2004 lessened his enjoyment of life. As a result of the ruling by Justice David Brown of Ontario’s Superior Court of Justice, Leduc must now submit to cross-examination by Roman’s lawyers about what his Facebook page contains. Brown’s Feb. 20 ruling also makes clear that lawyers must now explain to their clients ‘in appropriate cases’ that postings on Facebook or other networking sites — such as MySpace, LinkedIn and even blogs — may be relevant to allegations in a lawsuit, said Tariq Remtulla, a Toronto lawyer who has been following the issue.”

One woman believes that Facebook and other social networking sites could prove to be more useful in court cases than DNA. Gill Smith whose son was murdered spoke out on the matter when it was revealed that up to 850,000 profiles of innocent people were part of the 4.5 million on an official database in the UK.

This Is Bristol
reports:

Referring to social networking sites such as Facebook and Bebo, she said: “If people are law abiding, it shouldn’t worry them at all. I would be more concerned about what was on the Internet than having my DNA profile held on file because there is so much information out there.”

“What we campaigned for was taking DNA profiles with the permission of the individuals concerned,” said Mrs Smith. “We believe that if a policeman knocked on your door and asked for DNA, most people would say ‘yes, keep it’.

“It wouldn’t worry me if my DNA was taken. If all the records were taken at birth, no one could complain they were being singled out.

“In Europe they are digging up the soldiers from the First World War and using DNA so relatives can find out where their loved ones are – it’s not just for criminals. DNA profiling has other uses as well.”

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