Gun forum posts used against you?


PDA






Fun2Shoot
January 5, 2006, 07:15 PM
Two other posts about gun training and the courts, and having a CCW lawyer on retainer got me to thinking. If this has been covered recently, I didn't see it in a basic search of the topic, so I'll post the topic.

Let's say that you are involved in a defensive confrontation that involves you pulling and firing your gun. For the sake of argument, let's say that the attacker had broken into your home and cornered you and you shot them dead.

You are found to be justified by the criminal courts, BUT the dead person's family files a civil suit and it is learned that you belong to a gun forum and the opposing civil lawyer learns your user name and logs on to the gun forum and does a search of your posts. Now that lawyer has a record of your posts. It could show your mind-set about lethal gun use that could hurt you before a civil jury trail. What if your posts would make a typical civil juror think that you are some kind of Rambo type, just itching for a gun fight?

Could your forum posts come back to haunt you in a court of law? :confused:

If you enjoyed reading about "Gun forum posts used against you?" here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!
Don Gwinn
January 5, 2006, 07:18 PM
I suppose that depends on what you say, doesn't it?

GRB
January 5, 2006, 07:23 PM
They not only could haunt you in civil court, they would very likely be used in criminal court if charges were filed against you.

KriegHund
January 5, 2006, 07:25 PM
Wouldnt surprise me.

AFAIK ive never said anything that could be damning to me, but then again im not a lawyer who can twist words...

Oops, i guess that shows my anti-law sentiment, eh? :rolleyes: and that 'eh' shows im anti candian, too. (which im really not)

Standing Wolf
January 5, 2006, 08:09 PM
One of the reasons I live in Colorado is our "Make My Day" law, which prevents criminals and/or their heirs from suing people who shoot them to prevent crimes.

...it is learned that you belong to a gun forum and the opposing civil lawyer learns your user name and logs on to the gun forum and does a search of your posts.

How would the assault lawyers ever find out?

Fun2Shoot
January 5, 2006, 08:23 PM
How would the assault lawyers ever find out?

Your ex or former in-laws with an axe to grind, etc.

Kruzr
January 5, 2006, 08:26 PM
If you are ever involved in a civil suit of any kind, don't be surprised at anything the opposing attorney (or yours for that matter) brings up. Their jobs are to win. So long as it's legal, you can expect them to dig into all aspects of your life and use anything they can against you.

John Hicks
January 5, 2006, 08:31 PM
They would have a hard time linking your information to your posts, and prove that you posted every one, not just someone with access to your computer. It might be very difficult for them to even figure out who you are a particular board, unless you are dumb enough to use your real name . . .

crap.

(thankfully it's a common name, whew)

Cosmoline
January 5, 2006, 08:56 PM
There are evidence issues involved that would make it difficult to introduce forum posts into criminal proceeding unless they are directly relevant to a specific crime (ie--you post your plans to kill a specific person or your post is itself a threat directed at the victim) or contradict something you say if you choose to testify. Generalized statements should not be allowed into a court, esp. when criminal charges are involved.

Of course, law enforcement is still free to scour your posts for investigation purposes. As are the the spooks :D

1 old 0311
January 5, 2006, 09:20 PM
Hi Kids,

Want a shock? ANYBODY can find damn near ANYTHING about you for free. Try www.whitepages, enter your e-mail into Google, or run your name through Yahoo. You will crap with the info that is public record. To answer your question YES you can find the sites someone visits FOR FREE.

Kevin

el44vaquero
January 5, 2006, 09:24 PM
If you question if something will get you into trouble, it's probably best if you don't say it. Common sense here folks. You might be free to say what you want, but that doesn't mean folks have to like it.

sm
January 5, 2006, 09:29 PM
www.neotrace.com

www.dnsstuff.com

Anything you say may be used you against you in a court of law...

--

Can we get a 'Kilroy" smilie?

George S.
January 5, 2006, 10:10 PM
If you are ever involved in a civil suit of any kind, don't be surprised at anything the opposing attorney (or yours for that matter) brings up. Their jobs are to win. So long as it's legal, you can expect them to dig into all aspects of your life and use anything they can against you.

They could even find out what you talked about with your buddies over some beers ater work. To a lawyer, nothing is sacred unless it involves the law or their image. Lawers in civil cases are usually paid by a percentage of what the courts award; so the bigger the damages involved, the deeper the lawyers will dig.

Standing Wolf
January 5, 2006, 10:19 PM
I refuse to live in fear of assault lawyers.

Indeed, it's they who should live in fear of us. We could easily, for example, force our elected misrepresentatives to enact serious tort reform, simply by letting them know they'll be voted out of office en masse if they fail to do the job right.

biere
January 5, 2006, 10:31 PM
I forget if the other thread that was similar was here or at tfl, but I really hope they put as much emphasis on my "what to use on a were wolf" answers as my answers in the " what do you do if someone kicks your door in and points a gun at you" type threads.

I have a long history of posting on the net, much of it while drinking beer as well.

They can pick and choose what they want and I will agree that what I did may cause me problems.

However I am thinking the halloween monster threads will help show the jury that this is my entertainment since I am too lazy and cheap to work harder so I can afford cable or satellite.

I am not yet at the point where I am willing to hide.

When that day comes then everything will change.

Cosmoline
January 5, 2006, 10:39 PM
As far as civil cases, yeah if you go on-line and talk about running laps and going on hunting trips it's going to hurt your chances of getting lots of money for a busted knee. :D

Hawk
January 5, 2006, 11:35 PM
I refuse to live in fear of assault lawyers.

I like that.

Even the Patriot act has provisions stating:...provided that such investigation of a United States person is not conducted solely upon the basis of activities protected by the first amendment to the Constitution.

Unless you actually are posting something advocating criminal activity, you're good to go vis a vis criminal prosecution. Burt Gummer speculation concerning "what if" stuff is protected, compliments of your founding fathers.

As far as civil goes, there's nothing, absolutely nothing, apart from living in a ditch only using cash (and that may not do it), you can do to "keep your skirts clean" they will dig up anything and everything.

Relax.

So sayeth:
James Hawxhurst (Hawk)
of Grand Prairie, Texas.
03 FFL, NRA Endowment, GOA life and whose (real) name scrolls past in the end credits of JPFO's "Innocents Betrayed".
who has removed his Kimber Ultra Type II FPB parts.
and tossed the mag disconnect on his BHP.

No more tinfoil.

SilentStalker
January 6, 2006, 12:51 AM
First of all it is highly illegal if a lawyer really did get your info. and log on as you to read your post without your written permission or a courts permission in which case you would know about it. Second of all even if he did find out such info, it would be thrown out as it is against the law. However, I suppose the court order you to provide the info. but I seriously doubt it as that is going into you private life and in which case you could counter argue that they are bringing up something that is a basic right everyone has as an American citizen. You could use any number of things here. Even if they did get this far I don't feel as if it would ever hold. I guess it would be up to how the jury feels about basic rights and gun owndership to defending yourself etc. Then again, I just realize something, since we are talking about internet forums, which are public then whatever you post becomes public info. that is legit for anyone to read.

Jeff White
January 6, 2006, 01:24 AM
If you are involved in a questionable shooting and are sued in civil court, you can bet your paycheck for the rest of your life that all of your: "Here in by God Texas, we can shoot anyone for any reason at any time!" posts are going to come back to haunt you.

Don't think you can hide behind a screen name or say someone else logged in on your password. The staff does a pretty good job of tracking down banned members who re-register, it wouldn't be all that hard to come up with who really posted it. Everyone has a certain style to their posts, the way they structure sentences, words they often misspell, even typos that are routinely made.

A good civil torts lawyer would have a field day with the posts many members make. Even though it may be just venting to you, many of these posts are made in serious threads discussing serious issues. It may seem humorous at the time you posted it, but it would go a long way towards convincing a jury that you were somehow negligent or looking for a chance to shoot an intruder and that person's heirs should be entitled to your house, your car, your kids college fund etc.

I can't say it's ever happened, but then I can't say it won't either. Rules of evidence in civil court are much more lenient then in criminal court.

Jeff

Cosmoline
January 6, 2006, 04:08 AM
I'm very familiar with civil actions. They're a completely different universe from criminal actions. Unlike criminal cases, most civil cases are fought and won long before trial. If a civil case gets to trial and the judge isn't sleeping, no the plaintiff attorney is not going to be allowed to parade your irrelevant, unfairly prejudicial forum posts in front of the jury. But nothing will stop the attorney from discovering them and raking you over the coals with them during depositions. And if you contradict your earlier statements you can end up making them relevant on cross.

So yeah it's probably not the best idea to post bold assertions about how you'll kill any man who tries to take your boombox. But for the most part I haven't seen too many posts here that would worry me in civil court. Just don't say anything on line that you wouldn't say in public, and even more importantly don't live in a town where you can't trust the jury pool (Chicago, NYC, LA, etc.).

Sindawe
January 6, 2006, 04:28 AM
Don't think you can hide behind a screen name or say someone else logged in on your password. The staff does a pretty good job of tracking down banned members who re-register, it wouldn't be all that hard to come up with who really posted it. Everyone has a certain style to their posts, the way they structure sentences, words they often misspell, even typos that are routinely made. The clever ones will change the way they put their posts together. They can use another email address to register. They can intentionally misspell words to look different. REALLY smart ones will even change the IP address they post from. Almost sounds like a challenge. ;)

Kidding aside, its is frightfully easy to find data on just about ANYBODY, given a name, a SS number or the like. The moderatly interested can find out where you live. The dedicated can find out how much your parents paid for their first house. Thats why I don't really hide behind a Nom de plume online, even though I use one. I just don't say online that which I would not say in person.

Cosmoline
January 6, 2006, 04:35 AM
In a criminal case, the 5th gives you the right to refuse to answer any questions. It's a wonderful thing, and makes it far more difficult for the other side to introduce evidence against you. The DA is going to have a tough time even authenticating the documents, let alone getting beyond hearsay rules.

In a civil case, however, you can be put under oath and asked almost anything the other side wants during depos that can run for days. If you are asked to authenticate emails as coming from you, you can lie and hope they have no independent means of verifying their identity. But of course then you're lying under oath, which is very risky and itself illegal. They can also ask you what forums you post on and under what user name, and you must answer.

Hawkmoon
January 6, 2006, 01:24 PM
First of all it is highly illegal if a lawyer really did get your info. and log on as you to read your post without your written permission or a courts permission in which case you would know about it.
But I don't need to log on as SilentStalker to read your posts. I'm logged on as Hawkmoon and reading what you wrote.

The issue of using as evidence in court, I suppose (remember, I really am not a lawyer) would be to prove that whoever rightfully registered the user name SilentStalker is the same person who wrote all those posts I dredged up about blowng away bad guys for entertainment on Saturday nights.

Justin
January 6, 2006, 01:31 PM
It hasn't happened, yet. I expect that within the next few years, data mining the internet for forum posts, blogs, chat logs, websites, livejournal entries, and other uploaded data will become a very lucrative business.

After all, if you're looking to publically smear somebody (say a politician) what better way than to hold a press conference where you read aloud some snippy forum post they made at 2am five years ago.

For a real-life example, just look at the recent flap over parents and schools searching myspace.com sites put up by their high-school kids in order to keep tabs on what they're doing and who they're hanging out with in their spare time.

TexasRifleman
January 6, 2006, 01:32 PM
I suppose that depends on what you say, doesn't it?


Well since I don't own any guns it doesn't matter. I'm just here to monitor you people.......

Father Knows Best
January 6, 2006, 01:33 PM
If a civil case gets to trial and the judge isn't sleeping, no the plaintiff attorney is not going to be allowed to parade your irrelevant, unfairly prejudicial forum posts in front of the jury.

Cosmoline, I have to disagree with you. Are you an attorney? I am. I do civil trial work. It's been 90% of my career for the last 12 years. I'm licensed in three states (Michigan, Arizona and Tennessee) and have handled cases in state and federal courts around the country.

The Defendant's statements are almost always going to be admissible if they are potentially relevant to the issues. There is a huge exception to the hearsay rule for "admissions against interest." In a case where someone is being sued for wrongful death over the shooting of another person, the defendant's statements on the use of lethal force are almost certainly going to be deemed to be relevant as the defendant's mental state at the time of (and leading up to) the shooting will be at issue.

The bottom line is that you should never write anything that you wouldn't want to have to explain to a jury.

MillCreek
January 6, 2006, 01:49 PM
I work on the defense side of medical malpractice lawsuits. During pre-trial discovery such as interrogatories and depositions, I have our defense counsel routinely ask about Usenet posts, forum posts, bulletin board posts, blogs and other sorts of Internet posts. I ask them under oath to provide their screen names or any other identifier connected with their posting activity. With this information in hand, I have done Google and other searches that has provided information helpful to the defense of these civil claims. Admissibility of these posts as evidence would of course depend upon if they are germane to the civil dispute at issue.

I was one of the first people to start doing this up here in our little legal community, and now more and more people are doing this. Sad to say, I have also had situations in which the plaintiff has lied under oath during their depositions on these matters, and this has most definitely come back to haunt them.

So I second the comments that unless you want to run the risk of your postings to be printed out, enlarged and put on the 4' x 6' foamboard for the jury to look at during trial, think of how they may come across.

PS: And although I am not an expert on other types of non-personal injury civil actions, from my perspective, I disagree with Cosmoline's opinion that most civil cases are won or lost long before trial. In medmal, we still try a lot of cases.

SilentStalker
January 6, 2006, 06:15 PM
But I don't need to log on as SilentStalker to read your posts. I'm logged on as Hawkmoon and reading what you wrote.

The issue of using as evidence in court, I suppose (remember, I really am not a lawyer) would be to prove that whoever rightfully registered the user name SilentStalker is the same person who wrote all those posts I dredged up about blowng away bad guys for entertainment on Saturday nights.

Great you just implicated me on something that I never spoke of LOL. I just joined here and have posted no nonsense like you state above LOL. However, the way you worded your post makes it sound like I have been here for a long time and have discussed shooting bad guys for Sat. night entertainment, even though it is not true. If a lawyer came on here and dug around and found that post then he would not have to search any further because even though these posts you speak of are fake, nonexistent, whatever, it makes enough implications to stand up on its on.

Also, as far as someone logging on LOL under my name and reading stuff I was referring more towards my PM's and such, not what is on an open forum. Pretty much anything that you put on the internet becomes public information that anyone can read at anytime, legally. When on the internet I would recommend doing as others have indicated, only say things that you would say in the general public, otherwise it could be held against you somehow at a later date.

Last thing, those that talk about IP addresses and tracking using those addresses, depending on your internet service provider your IP address could change everytime you log onto the net making it very hard to track using this info. alone. Later.

Molon Labe
January 6, 2006, 06:31 PM
I refuse to live in fear of assault lawyers.

Indeed, it's they who should live in fear of us. We could easily, for example, force our elected misrepresentatives to enact serious tort reform, simply by letting them know they'll be voted out of office en masse if they fail to do the job right.+1

I refuse to live in fear. I shoot guns, I train with the militia, and say whatever the hell I want. I don't live under the radar; I couldn’t give a rat's a$$ if anyone knows, including the evil gubberment. Heck, I even told my boss I train with the militia. He just looked at me funny. :D

If you live in fear, you have lost the battle.

Shalako
January 6, 2006, 06:33 PM
Good thing everything I ever posted on the 'net was pure fiction. ;)

You all are assuming everything on the 'net is written as non-fiction. Maybe its just a creative writting excercise.

For all I know all you guys are just a 'personna' anyway, except for the guys trying to make money (sales) or references off their posts. Then again, sm is just too cool to be fake.

ALHunter
January 6, 2006, 06:50 PM
As a civil litigator, I can tell you your posts here will most certainly be discovered. Whether they are used against you will depend on what you have said. They could turn out to help you. Or you could have some that hurt and some that help.

In a civil suit you will be served with Interrogatories, Requests for Production, and probably Requests for Admissions. All must be answered truthfully and sworn to as truthful. These written requests are called discovery. Any good lawyer will ask questions about computer use, prior statements, where made, when made, etc.

You will also be deposed. You will be under oath subject to penalty of perjury. Any good lawyer will ask about oral or written statements on gun use, self defense, etc. The info about posting on THR will come out one way or the other.

Last, you and/or your attorney may be sent (by a savvy plaitniff's lawyer) a letter of preservation instructing you to immediatley save and preserve any computer files, disks, hard drives, etc. Basically, all computer info - both home computer and work computer (can include PDA's, Blackberry's, Voice Mail, etc.) are subject to inspection.

In sex harrassment cases I often do this. Then I send the hard drive to a computer forensic expert. What I love is the forensic expert who data mines out all the nasty emails, porno pictures, porno videos, and many times the self-made porno videos that the plaintiff herself sent to the person she alleges was sexually harassing her. This really quickly deflates her allegations and helps settle the case quickly.

Federal and State rules of evidence will all let computer records into evidence, subject only to a relevancy balancing test. And, believe me, if you've been involved in a self defense shooting or other gun altercation, your postings here and on any other internet forum will be deemed relevant, even by conservative judges.

Sorry for the long post, just wanted to clear up the issues since I have years of personal experience in this.

ka50
January 6, 2006, 06:52 PM
Two other posts about gun training and the courts, and having a CCW lawyer on retainer got me to thinking. If this has been covered recently, I didn't see it in a basic search of the topic, so I'll post the topic.

Let's say that you are involved in a defensive confrontation that involves you pulling and firing your gun. For the sake of argument, let's say that the attacker had broken into your home and cornered you and you shot them dead.

You are found to be justified by the criminal courts, BUT the dead person's family files a civil suit and it is learned that you belong to a gun forum and the opposing civil lawyer learns your user name and logs on to the gun forum and does a search of your posts. Now that lawyer has a record of your posts. It could show your mind-set about lethal gun use that could hurt you before a civil jury trail. What if your posts would make a typical jury think that you're some kind of cowboy that discusses the best ammo for a one-shot kill or why you favor the lethality of a shotgun over a handgun?

Could your forum posts come back to haunt you in a court of law? :confused:


cuz I wanna be a cooowboy baaaby!

ccw007
January 6, 2006, 06:54 PM
I started a thread on something like this not long ago. I seen on the news last month there have been 2 criminal cases that information the person posted online resulted in charges.

ka50
January 6, 2006, 06:57 PM
+1

I refuse to live in fear. I shoot guns, I train with the militia, and say whatever the hell I want. I don't live under the radar; I couldn’t give a rat's a$$ if anyone knows, including the evil gubberment. Heck, I even told my boss I train with the militia. He just looked at me funny. :D

If you live in fear, you have lost the battle.

"Only Thing We Have to Fear Is Fear Itself"

Old Dog
January 6, 2006, 07:28 PM
I would think that ... if one had previously made internet forum posts saying things such as ...

"There's someone I don't know comin' inside my house, I ain't waitin' to see if he's bigger'n me or carryin' a knife or a gun or a chainsaw ... I'm shootin' to slide-lock ..."

Yeah, that could -- and would -- be used against you.

This is why, from time time, I think many of us read a post and just kinda shake our head or chuckle ruefully ... sometimes I note some signature lines that seem a little extreme too -- along the lines of, "Nothing says 'Freeze, dirtbag,' like the sound of a 12-gauge being racked," etc... Anything that could go toward painting one in court as a trigger-happy whackjob just waiting for that one opportunity to blow someone away ...

Why wouldn't anyone presume that any half-decent lawyer in a civil case wouldn't drag out every scrap of information on a defendant in a civil suit, including everything the defendant typed from his computer keyboard?

If you live in fear, you have lost the battle.Gee, great sound bite ... I know everyone here considers themselves to be rugged libertarian individualists, but I don't think the question is at all about living in fear; it's more a question of exercising common sense and being prudent in one's public statements ...

If you enjoyed reading about "Gun forum posts used against you?" here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!