As I’ve said before, I’m a fan of technology in the courtroom, today more so than ever. The device which saved my client’s bacon may’ve differed from the usual litigation tools, but it couldn’t have proved more effective. Just ask my adversary, if you don’t believe me.
The court scheduled a hearing this morning on an ex-husband’s petition to modify custody for his three-year-old child. I represent the ex-wife. Arguing that her full-time employment had resulted in lax supervision, the husband urged the court to award sole custody to him and the qualified, live-in nanny who’d assist in the boy’s care. Though total B.S., the petition caused me considerable angst, since anything can happen in a courtroom and I knew the loss of her child would devastate my client.
This morning, my adversary appeared before the Judge without the petitioner. The lawyer claimed the man had telephoned last night to inform of a delay in his travel plans. He’s been out of the country on business and was scheduled to return yesterday; however, the airline canceled yesterday’s flight, and the next available one isn’t until late this afternoon. Consequently, my adversary asked the Judge for a continuance due to factors outside the ex-husband’s control.
I’m sure the Judge would’ve granted the request. But before he ruled, my client tapped me on the arm and exhibited certain images she’d called up on her iPhone. She also explained some details which weren’t readily apparent from the photos alone.
Borrowing the device, I approached the bench and shared with the Judge and my adversary the same images and clarifying remarks my client had imparted. The perturbed Judge in turn asked opposing counsel to respond. Plainly caught by surprise, the lawyer opted for “CYA” (i.e., “cover your ass”), swearing he had no knowledge of the matters displayed. Without further ado, the Judge dismissed the husband’s custody petition for failure to appear and sent us home.
So we won the day, thanks to technology in general and the iPhone, and Facebook, in particular. Once he hears the news, the petitioner undoubtedly will kick himself for his stupidity in a) neglecting to “unfriend” his ex-wife on Facebook and b) posting such extensive evidence of his “business” trip on his Facebook wall. The Judge didn’t appreciate the absence of any commercial activities from the plethora of photos posted by the husband, the majority of which displayed the man lounging poolside at a Caribbean resort, dining lavishly, or taking in the Ocean view from his high-rise hotel balcony. Even more, the Judge frowned upon the plentiful images of the husband arm and arm with his travel companion: an obviously-intoxicated, bikini-clad bimbo whom the pictures depicted sipping cocktails morning, noon and night. Standing alone, the photos seemed damning enough. Combined with my client’s explanatory addenda – that the bikini-clad bimbo was none other than the husband’s proposed full-time nanny – they told the Judge everything he needed to know.