In ways large and small, the State of Florida v. George Zimmerman is serving as a modernized blueprint for deploying social media in a murder case, says the New York Times. “The way the whole case has been playing out in social media is typical of our times, but more typical of civil cases than criminal cases,” said Robert Ambrogi, a lawyer and technology expert who writes a blog on the intersection of the legal profession and social media. “It’s not without precedent, but it’s on the cutting edge.”
When Mark O’Mara agreed to defend George Zimmerman in the Trayvon Martin murder case, one of his first major decisions was to embrace the Internet. He set up a legal defense Web site for his client, a Twitter page and a Facebook account, all with the purpose of countering what he called the “avalanche of misinformation” about the case and Zimmerman. It was a risky move, unorthodox for a criminal defense lawyer, legal experts said, but a bold one. Late last month, the judge in the case, rebuffing the prosecution, allowed O’Mara to keep the online presence. In so doing, the judge sanctioned the use of social media in a high-profile murder case that was already steeped in the power of Facebook, Twitter and blogs.