Social sites and court-martials

I have mentioned several times that I always look for MySpace, Facebook, and other social network accounts held by witnesses at a court-martial trial I have.  In a number of instances I have found information, photographs, or leads to other information that has been useful for cross-examination at the court-martial.  Google and other social network sites can be a useful investigative tool for military lawyers.  See CNN Justice: Facebook status update provides alibi; The Local, His Facebook Status Now?  ‘Charges Dropped;” Professor Colin Miller has more on his Blog.

Here is a case from New York City in which the accused’s Facebook activity proved his alibi.  This case also, again, points out the fallacy of identifications.  The accused was a suspect in a robbery and was picked out of a line-up.

Rodney Branford claimed alibi.  He claimed and had his family testify that he was elsewhere on his father’s computer updating his Facebook account at the time of the robbery.  The prosecutors didn’t think that was sufficient proof of alibi and were still going toward trial.  Heck who believes and accused and his family.  At least the prosecutor was willing to work with the defense and subpoened records from Facebook.  The records showed that indeed he was updating his Facebook account from his father’s computer (IP address).

He was updating his Facebook at 1149; the crime happened at 1150; and there is quite a distance, let alone travel time, between Harlem and Brooklyn.

As a side-note, I recently found in a case that Google and other search tools were more accurate and reliable than information on LEXIS and WestLaw for information about people.  A prosecutor was trying to use address and homeowner records from Lexis (and Lexis has a caution their records may not be accurate).  A Google search found the real and accurate records.

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