Many people use social media networks like Facebook and Twitter to connect with friends, provide updates on our lives, and keep in touch with the world. Sometimes we forget that the information we publish on social media can be found by strangers. While it may seem harmless, it’s possible for that information to be used against us.
If recent news in New Mexico is anything to go by, social media attacks won’t just be for celebrities and public figures anymore. The state is using social media shame to target judges who give “lenient” sentences for DUIs.
Shaming Judges for DUI Sentencing
New Mexico is enacting a program to pay staff members of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) to attend court hearings of judges known to be more lenient in DUI cases. The staff will send sentencing information to state officials, who will in turn post on social media about the judges and the sentences.
MADD, who already offers the service in other states, was given a two-year, $800,000 contract by New Mexico to attend hearings in counties with the most DUI arrests and DUI-related deaths.
The goal of this program is to identify the judges who fail to crack down on those with multiple DUI convictions.
Could Social Media Shame Affect Your Case?
This isn’t necessarily an uncommon practice. Police departments across the country post booking photos of DUI suspects on Facebook. It has been extremely rare that judges are the targets of these programs, but the program in New Mexico hopes to put more pressure and blame on judges, and this could become common in many states.
The issue with social media is that the message is not easy to control. People may launch an attack behind anonymous Twitter handles and harass these judges, defense attorneys and defendants in the case. Public figures have often seen personal information leaked online after becoming the subject of negative internet attention.
DUI may not be a victimless crime, but some feel that the program is less about preventing drunk drivers and more a public relations stunt. At its core, this social shaming program aims to crack down on judges being “lenient,” but it is attempting to force a judge’s hand. Judges and prosecutors who fear harassment or don’t wish to be identified online may become unfairly biased in future trials.
Rather than just considering the facts, a judge may involve personal feelings and fear when it comes to issue a sentence. Public pressure could cause a judge to hand out harsher sentences than they would have before being the fear of being shamed on social media became an issue.
What do you think about the social shaming program? Do you think California should implement a similar program or does it force judges to be biased in DUI cases?
Contact a DUI Attorney at Wallin & Klarich
If you are facing DUI charges in California, you need an aggressive DUI attorney who will protect your rights and ensure you have a fair trial. At Wallin & Klarich, our DUI attorneys have over 35 years of experience serving our clients and giving them the best representation available.
With offices in Orange County, Los Angeles, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, West Covina and Sherman Oaks, you can find a dedicated Wallin & Klarich attorney near you no matter your location.
Call us at (888) 280-6839 for a free phone consultation. We will be there when you call.