Defense Lawyer’s YouTube Strategy Backfires

The Review Board of the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission suspended a criminal defense lawyer, Jesse Raymond Gilsdorf, for five months after he posted a discovery video on YouTube and then linked it to his Facebook. He believed the video of the undercover drug sale would exonerate his client because it showed police planting drugs on her. However, the video, titled “Cops and Task Force Planting Drugs,” clearly showed his client purchasing drugs when viewed on a large screen. As a result, his client pled guilty and was sentenced to probation.

The Review Board affirmed all but one of the violations of Illinois’ Rules of Professional Conduct recommended by the Illinois Hearing Board against Gilsdorf. Specifically, he was disciplined for violating: Rule 1.6(a) because he revealed information relating to the representation of a client without the informed consent of his client; Rule 1.4(a)(2) because he failed to reasonably consult with his client about the means by which the client’s objectives were to be accomplished; and Rule 3.6(a) because he made extrajudicial statements that he knew or reasonably should have known would be disseminated by means of public communication and would pose a serious and imminent threat to the fairness of an adjudicative proceeding.

As this case suggests, the practice of law in the social media era requires that a lawyer to exercise a greater duty of care to avoid divulging confidential information and potentially compromising his client’s case.

For further information, click here. To view the Illinois Review Board Report, click here.

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