Perry Mason meets the internet
From the Boston Globe-
As Ivy League-educated pediatrician Robert P. Lindeman sat on the stand in Suffolk Superior Court this month, defending himself in a malpractice suit involving the death of a 12-year-old patient, the opposing counsel startled him with a question.Dr. Lindeman is free to state his opinions as is any blogger, but I would common sense would tell you that blogging on a trial that you're a participant in isn't a very prudent move. It will and did backfire.
Was Lindeman Flea?
Flea, jurors in the case didn't know, was the screen name for a blogger who had written often and at length about a trial remarkably similar to the one that was going on in the courtroom that day.
In his blog, Flea had ridiculed the plaintiff's case and the plaintiff's lawyer. He had revealed the defense strategy. He had accused members of the jury of dozing.
With the jury looking on in puzzlement, Lindeman admitted that he was, in fact, Flea.
The next morning, on May 15, he agreed to pay what members of Boston's tight-knit legal community describe as a substantial settlement -- case closed.
The case is a startling illustration of how blogging, already implicated in destroying friendships and ruining job prospects, could interfere in other important arenas. Lawyers in Massachusetts and elsewhere, some of whom downloaded Flea's observations and posted them on their websites, said the case has also prompted them to warn clients that blogs can come back to haunt them.
Elizabeth N. Mulvey, the lawyer who represented Vinroy and Deborah Binns and unmasked Lindeman as Flea, said she laughed when she read a posting at the start of the trial in which Lindeman nicknamed her Carissa Lunt, noticed that she bit her fingernails and mused, "Wonder if she's a pillow biter, too?"
But she was appalled that readers in the blogosphere who knew little or nothing about the case rallied to his defense.
Here is the ironic part of this story.
In April, before the trial began, he wrote about meeting with an expert on juries who advised him how to act when he was cross- examined. Flea was instructed to angle his chair slightly toward the jury, keep his hands folded in his lap, and face the jury when answering questions, slowly. "Answers should be kept to no more than three sentences," he wrote.If not for the settlement, Dr. Lindeman was about to get a dose of his own medicine for not listening to the legal advise he was given. Pun intended.
The consultant told him juries in medical malpractice cases base verdicts almost entirely on their view of a doctor's character.
Hat tip- Jonathan Adler at The Volokh Conspiracy
Linked to- Leaning Straight Up, Perri Nelson, Right Voices,