Montgomery County DA's Office Decides to Tweet the Names of DUI Arrestees

Just when I thought many of the issues lawyers deal with through the use of social media were overblown and could be easily addressed by common sense, someone comes along to prove me wrong:  the Montgomery County District Attorney's Office.

As defense lawyer Paul Kennedy notes, the Montgomery County DA's office has decided to tweet the name of everyone arrested for a DUI. 

This is just a bad idea all the way around.  As Paul notes, people are wrongly arrested all the time, and there is damage that can be done just by noting the fact of someone's arrest.  To me it doesn't seem like there's any good justification for publicizing the names of people arrested for certain types of crimes (I suppose it could serve some deterrent value...).

The DA's office may come back and say that these are public facts and newspapers may publish the names of arrestees all the time.  But just because facts are publicly known and made available by the media, doesn't mean the prosecutor has to actively publicize these facts.

I wonder if there are any ethical issues lurking around here? 

Am I off-base on this one?  I'm not a criminal lawyer so I may well be, but it just doesn't pass the gut-check test for me. 

I guess we may want to look at the bright side.  Tweeting the names of arrestees probably makes it much easier for lawyer-marketers to reach out (even via Twitter) to the people who have been arrested.  (kidding)
 
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Comments

  • 12/25/2009 5:40 PM Eric wrote:
    I'm no lawyer (criminal or otherwise) but if you get pulled over on suspected DUI and blow a .1 that's pretty damning evidence.

    Granted, there are always situations in which there are people that are falsely arrested for any crime. To say nothing for the, uh, character of police officers.

    There's a few things that make it a bit of a non-issue for me though. One, how long will Twitter remain relevant for the DOA to publish this information? Two, Twitter search doesn't really do a great job of finding information after a certain time frame, 30 days I believe. This is admittedly a moot point because if one person was determined and patient enough they could just go to the DAO's twitter feed and start going through this. But that implies they have to know the person already committed a crime. Simply searching in Google or other search engines won't bring up results from tweets all the time (yet) and the likely hood of one tweet even showing up in a SERP seems pretty low. In reality, what search engine users are far more likely too find is an online news paper arrest record before a tweet.

    So really the whole thing strikes me as sort of insignificant. I know I'm leaving out other point's of view. After all, I'm not a lawyer, but from an aspect of worrying about Twitter alone, it strikes me something that's not going to amount to much other than the "scaring people not to drive drunk"

    This is really an abominable crime that still occurs way too often, and some people seem to still not take it seriously.
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  • 12/25/2009 7:13 PM Mobius wrote:
    This one's an easy fix. Doing that with the intentions the DA's office has is a CLEAR violation of Twitter's TOS. First name goes up I'll be the first one to demand the removal of their account.
    Reply to this
  • 3/6/2010 2:33 PM Jordan wrote:
    Drink driving is pretty serious in my book, i understand the privacy issues here but under the circumstance, just my thoughts.
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