Every lawyer recognizes that destroying evidence prior to trial is wrong and unethical. But what about destruction of a Facebook page prior to trial? Turns out, removing photographs or altering a Facebook page can result in the trial court issuing heavy sanctions.
In Lester v. Allied Concrete Co ., a wrongful death lawsuit pending in Virginia state court, lawyer Mathew Murray instructed his client to remove 15 photographs from his Facebook page. His client, likely not knowing better, removed the photographs. Compounding the issue was the fact that Murray’s client denied having a Facebook page under oath when the defense took his deposition.
When the trial court found out about the removal and Murray’s involvement, it issued one of the heaviest sanctions I have ever seen. Murray was ordered by the trial court to pay a $522,000 fine for instructing his client to remove the photographs. His client, who did not escape the court’s wrath, was ordered to pay a $180,000 fine.
To date, I have not seen much discussion about Facebook pages as evidence in Washington court opinions. At this point, the best practice would be to treat Facebook pages like any other piece of evidence.