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Gun forum posts used against you?

Discussion in 'Legal' started by Fun2Shoot, Jan 5, 2006.

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  1. Fun2Shoot

    Fun2Shoot Member

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    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:
     
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2006
  2. Don Gwinn

    Don Gwinn Moderator Emeritus

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    I suppose that depends on what you say, doesn't it?
     
  3. GRB

    GRB member

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    They not only could haunt you in civil court, they would very likely be used in criminal court if charges were filed against you.
     
  4. KriegHund

    KriegHund Member

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    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)
     
  5. Standing Wolf

    Standing Wolf Member in memoriam

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    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.

    How would the assault lawyers ever find out?
     
  6. Fun2Shoot

    Fun2Shoot Member

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

    Kruzr Member

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    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.
     
  8. John Hicks

    John Hicks Member

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    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)
     
  9. Cosmoline

    Cosmoline Member

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    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
     
  10. 1 old 0311

    1 old 0311 member

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    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
     
  11. el44vaquero

    el44vaquero Member

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    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.
     
  12. sm

    sm member

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  13. George S.

    George S. Member

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    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.
     
  14. Standing Wolf

    Standing Wolf Member in memoriam

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    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.
     
  15. biere

    biere Member

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    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.
     
  16. Cosmoline

    Cosmoline Member

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    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
     
  17. Hawk

    Hawk Member

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    I like that.

    Even the Patriot act has provisions stating:
    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.
     
  18. SilentStalker

    SilentStalker Member

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    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.
     
  19. Jeff White

    Jeff White Moderator Staff Member

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    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
     
  20. Cosmoline

    Cosmoline Member

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    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.).
     
  21. Sindawe

    Sindawe Member

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    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.
     
  22. Cosmoline

    Cosmoline Member

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    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.
     
  23. Hawkmoon

    Hawkmoon Member

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    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.
     
  24. Justin

    Justin Moderator Staff Member

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    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.
     
  25. TexasRifleman

    TexasRifleman Moderator Emeritus

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