David Ovalle reports on a mistrial caused by a public defender’s inappropriate conduct on Facebook:
A Miami-Dade judge declared a mistrial in a murder case Wednesday after a defense lawyer posted a photo of her client’s leopard-print underwear on Facebook.
The defendant: Fermin Recalde, accused of stabbing his girlfriend to death in Hialeah in 2010.
Recalde’s family brought him a bag of fresh clothes to wear during trial. When Miami-Dade corrections officers lifted up the pieces for a routine inspection, Recalde’s public defender Anya Cintron Stern snapped a photo of Recalde’s briefs with her cellphone, witnesses said.
While on a break, the 31-year-old lawyer posted the photo on her personal Facebook page with a caption suggesting the client’s family believed the underwear was “proper attire for trial.”
Although her Facebook page is private and can only be viewed by her friends, somebody who saw the posting notified Miami-Dade Judge Leon Firtel, who declared a mistrial.
Read more on The Miami Herald. Apparently, that wasn’t the PD’s only imprudent conduct on Facebook in this case, and the judge did the right thing, in my opinion. But apart from her being fired immediately, I’d like to know if she will be facing charges with the bar association. At the very least, it seems that a refresher course in ethics would be in order. Or is it considered permissible for a defense attorney to disparage or make fun of their clients among friends?
Ovalle also mentions a few other cases where mistrials have occurred because of lawyer or juror misconduct involving social media.