Legal Ethics

Lawyer who urged client to clean up Facebook page has paid $544K legal bill; now faces ethics case


A Virginia lawyer who ran afoul of discovery requirements in a major wrongful-death trial by allegedly encouraging a client to clean up his Facebook account has paid his $544,000 share of a $722,000 legal fee award to opposing counsel and seen an $8.5 million award to his client and other plaintiffs in the case upheld by the state supreme court.

Matthew B. Murray also resigned from the law firm for which he worked and is now facing a legal ethics case over his conduct in the Charlottesville Circuit Court case, reports the Daily Progress.

He could not be reached Tuesday for comment by the newspaper, but an observer noted in prior news coverage that social media is a new discovery arena that lawyers, especially several years ago, were still learning to deal with.

Virginia Lawyers Weekly provided a link to the 2011 sanctions order (PDF) imposing the $722,000 legal-fee award.

Most of the photos from Isaiah Lester’s account on Facebook were eventually provided to defense counsel and used at the wrongful death trial, an earlier Daily Progress article reported. They included a picture of Lester, holding a beer can and wearing a t-shirt with the slogan “I (heart symbol) hot moms,” as well as a garter belt on his head.

See also:

ABAJournal.com: “Defense Seeks Reversal of $10.6M Death Award, Says Lawyer Didn’t Disclose ‘Stink Bomb’ Email”

ABAJournal.com: “Va. Judge OK’d $722K Legal Fees Clawback Due to Withheld Facebook Photos and Information”

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