Attorney Jack Bacevice joined the Cleveland firm Mansour Gavin after years as an Assistant Director of Law for the city of Cleveland. He’s handled numerous high-profile cases and is very familiar with practicing in the court of law while the court of public opinion intently watches. We’ll periodically feature a Q&A with Jack and Hennes Communications Managing Partner Thom Fladung on the art and craft of litigating in the harsh glare of the public spotlight.
Q. Let’s talk more about social media and its impact on litigation communications and trials. Has social media changed how you prepare for or conduct trials?
A. Yes and no. Yes, because if you have a client who is either particularly sensitive to public discussion of the matter, or criticism of their position, you need to be a full-service attorney and attend to that client’s needs. It is the right thing to do, but it is also practical. A client distracted by outside noise cannot give you full attention and aid during the litigation process. But also, no, in that the fundamental preparation does not change. Your audience is ultimately the judge and, at trial, the jury.
Q. As you know, the American Bar Association in 2014 officially approved the use of social media to aid attorneys in jury selection. Do you use it? What do you think are best practices for the use of social media with jury selection?
A. I personally have not, but I see nothing wrong with its use. I think it can be beneficial. Many people, for better or worse, reveal a great deal about their personal lives and opinions on social media. It can certainly help weed out a biased juror, which is beneficial to the system as a whole. If your case has a great deal of media attention, you will want to know if a person has “liked” or commented on any articles pertaining to the matter. As long as you are reviewing public postings and all parties have access to the information, I think it is not only fair to use, but can be a great resource in sitting an impartial jury.
Q. In preparing for and then conducting a trial, do you tell your client’s family and friends to stay off of social media? Or, since that might be an impossible ask these days, at least be careful what you say there to protect your client’s interests?
A. It is imperative that your client and all their close family and friends stay off of social media. You absolutely do not want the additional headaches that social media can, and almost inevitably will, bring. The stress of a trial is far more than enough. I always have and always will in the strongest possible terms keep my client and any close family and friends off of social media during a high visibility trial.
To reach Jack Bacevice and Mansour Gavin, call 216-523-1500 or email [email protected]. Reach Thom Fladung at 216-321-7774 or [email protected]. Got a question you’d like them to take on? Email it to [email protected]