A Fool for a Client

The mind boggles.

Blogger unmasked, court case upended: 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.

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.

So, here's a little tip for anyone who finds themselves involved in a lawsuit: don't blog about the case (or, at least, have every posting approved by your lawyer). And if you do have a blog, maybe you should mention this fact to your lawyer…

P.S. I'm sure someone in the blogosphere will try to spin this case as some sort of attack on bloggers' inherent right to anonymity. It isn't.

(Thanks to DF for the link.)

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6 Responses to A Fool for a Client

  1. Joe says:

    Did the doctor’s lawyer object to the question?

  2. Joe says:

    I’m not a pediatrician, and I’m not a doctor. My father was a doctor, and I have several relatives that have diabetes (mostly Type II, but one is a teenager with Type I). The question not answered by the article: with $60.00 glucose meters in local pharmacies and grocery stores, how do you miss a possible diagnosis of diabetes and how do you fail to refer a patient to an endocrinologist? The symptoms for the onset of diabetes are fairly well known. How did this happen?

  3. Scott in Fla says:

    >>>Re:”Did the doctor’s lawyer object to the question?”

    Probably not a good idea to have objected, cause here’s the way that objection would likely have gone:

    Plaintiff’s Atty:
    “Are you Flea?”

    Defense Atty:
    “Objection. Relevance.”

    Plaintiff’s Atty: (In front of the jury, if she was smart)
    “Judge, it’s relevant because we believe the Defendant has been blogging this trial under the name ‘Flea,’ that in this blog he’s been criticizing the jurors for sleeping during the trial, and furthermore that he’s been publicly criticizing both me as a lawyer as well as the Plaintiff’s case, thereby improperly attempting to influence anyone who read his blog, including members of the jury. And he’s been doing this, of course, as ‘Flea’ so that no one would know he’s the one commenting in this way, or that he’s actually talking about this case. So it’s very relevant for all those reasons, Your Honor.”

    Judge:
    “Defense – any response? Or do you agree that if your client is Flea it’s relevant for those reasons?”

    Defense Atty:
    “Judge, can we have a recess.”

    Judge:
    “No. Defense – any response?”

    Defense Atty: (With nothing else to say)
    “But Judge, it’ll hurt my case.”

    Judge:
    “I understand. I’ll take that as a 403 objection. Overruled.”

    ;-)

  4. “The mind boggles.”

    No, at least not my mind.

    It’s a natural outgrowth of blog-evangelism. And it’s tough to be operationally good at anonymity.

    The problem is that the blog hucksters are long gone, looking to fleece other suckers, by the time the effects of their snake-oil become apparent.

  5. Joe says:

    Scott, you have a point, but if the defendant’s lawyer can’t get a bench conference at this moment to at least discuss the question and make a record for appeal, then the lawyer may not have been properly prepared (which is evident after reading the story in the Globe). I’ve always tried to maintain respectful relationships with judges and opposing counsel so that if something like this happens in a courtroom, I can at least perfom effective damage control. I’ve been surprised a couple of times in depositions, and once at a trial, but my case was not heavily damaged on any occasion. It’s tough to be cordial in the heat of battle, but good trial practice requires manners.

  6. hipparchia says:

    “Most of us investigate whatever prior writings our clients might have had, so they are not exposed to their inconsistencies in their testimony,” said Meyer, who has begun warning clients against the practice. “But it’s impossible to do if you don’t know that your client is blogging under an assumed name.”

    It’s certainly difficult to track down someone if they’re blogging under an assumed name, but it’s not impossible, as we see here. Was Dr Flea’s lawyer not internet-savvy enough to do this kind of investigating, or worse yet, enough of an internet naif to not even know to ask whether the client had any blogs?

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