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Silence Is Golden: Why Lawyers Tell Their Clients to Keep Quiet

Silence Is Golden: Why Lawyers Tell Their Clients to Keep Quiet

Any American who has watched a police procedural has heard it: A newly-arrested suspect being told by a police officer that they have the right to remain silent. This protection against self-incrimination is a Constitutional right in criminal cases. However, remaining silent isn’t just a good idea in criminal cases. There are many reasons why lawyers tell their clients not to discuss their civil cases, too.confidential documents on a table next to a typewriter

The Dangers of Discussing Your Civil Case on Social Media

Anything bad enough to give rise to a civil lawsuit is bound to be frustrating, both emotionally and financially. Thus, it’s easy to understand the temptation to vent some frustration over a civil legal dispute. However, mouthing off about things like a car crash or an injury at work can get clients in trouble in a hurry. In the age of social media and smartphones, anything you say could get recorded for posterity and become available to the world.

Of course, opposing lawyers are now savvy to the electronic footprint people leave. In our experience, one of the first things defense attorneys do is check social media to see if our clients have said or posted something that could undermine their injury claim.

In newsworthy cases, defense attorneys will also scour media reports for statements indicating hostility or anger. They use such statements to paint a plaintiff as a “disgruntled person” who “has a chip on their shoulder.”

It’s not just statements that can cause problems. Defense lawyers will use photos or videos of people on vacation to show that an injury didn’t affect the quality of their lives. In fact, any plaintiff who is shown appearing to have a good time - relaxing with friends, drinking socially, or enjoying a day at the beach - will probably end up being confronted about it before a jury.

Court Proceedings MUST Remain Confidential

Issues can arise when people talk about confidential court proceedings as well. For example, in a case we’re involved in arising from a boat fire, one of the injured people (who we don’t represent) spoke to a reporter about the results of mediation. Unfortunately for him, mediations are strictly confidential. His dissatisfaction with the vessel owner’s behavior in settlement negotiations resulted in a motion to dismiss his case. A federal magistrate appeared to recognize that the man simply made a mistake and recommended against dismissal, but there’s no final decision yet.

Finally, there’s a small class of sensational or highly publicized cases in which silence can be mandatory. Courts have power to override free speech rights and impose “gag orders” in criminal cases if they believe a person’s right to a fair trial may be affected by out-of-court statements. This recently happened in the cases involving Trump associates Paul Manafort and Roger Stone. While Stone and Manafort are free to speak to the press about anything else, they—along with others involved in their cases—must refrain from talking to the media in a way which could contaminate potential jurors.

Do You Have a Case? Call Roman & Gaynor: (727) 877-1212

As you can see, there are plenty of pitfalls for those who talk or share too much about their case. That’s why it’s best to keep quiet when important legal matters are at stake, and to align yourself with a reputable, proven attorney. At Roman & Gaynor, you’ll get exactly that.

Backed by more than 50 years of combined legal experience, we are fierce advocates of the wrongfully injured. Our Board Certified civil trial attorneys have secured upwards of $65 million in verdicts and settlements for our past clients, and we are ready to help you achieve similar success.

If you were injured, do not wait to contact a Clearwater personal injury attorney at our office. Consultations are FREE and completely confidential. Call (727) 877-1212 or complete an online case evaluation form to get started today.

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