Friday, October 24, 2014

Is this a "one-off" for NY or the trend of the future?

Image courtesy of MR LIGHTMAN
We have all seen the stories where police catch criminals because the criminals could not stay off social media. And we all think, how dumb can people be posting their criminal activity to the web? But, how would you like to find out you are being sued through your Facebook or through a Tweet? What if you get a photo of the court documents through a post on Instagram if that is a possibility?  (I don't use Instagram much). Congratulations! You've been served! Or have you?

Well it seems that may be the case in NY. In an article I read this morning, it seems a NY court in a Family Law case allowed a party to serve support papers through Facebook on a spouse that was dodging service. "You've got served!"

Of course the article indicates the normal means of service were unsuccessful. So the moving party requested alternative service and must have proved the deadbeat spouse was active on her page. The court, with what I think is sound reasoning, allowed service through the social media outlet.

While I appreciate the value of the internet and have used it in my practice to find information myself, I'm still not sure how I feel about serving legal notice this way. I guess if I was the party trying to serve someone dodging service, I'd like this. But, my concern is I have noticed people I'm connected with who use social media in bursts. I'm sure many other people have friends that do this too. They are on social media pretty heavy for a few weeks or months and then the just seem to disappear. They take a break, maybe traveling for work, or sometimes just stop.

You never know when, why or for how long ... they just drop off. So what happens if the drop off just before you serve them? I guess it is better than public notice in a newspaper. Courts in NY and California are known for starting legal trends. It will be interesting to see where this goes. I think Pennsylvania will be slow to follow this example but who knows.

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