I’ve posted previously how an employee’s social-media content can be used to show his violation of a non-solicitation agreement. We’ve also written about blog comment used as evidence in a Deceptive Trade Practices claim. Family-law practitioners report that Facebook is their primary source of online evidence in divorce cases. And there are even a few cases in which courts have held that a “friend” request constitutes “contact” for purposes of a no-contact order. But a recent case from Arizona puts yet another spin on the use of social-media activity as the basis for a lawsuit—in this case, the basis for a protective order.
AZCentral.com reports the following. An Arizona State University student tweeted that, if he saw a certain judge, he would “not hesitate to punch” him—a comment that apparently reflected the student’s disagreement with the judge’s support for Proposition 107, a measure that proposes to end further use of state-funded affirmative action.
The judge, the Honorable Ward Connerly, apparently learned of the tweet and applied for a restraining order against the student. Judge Connerly is reported as saying that he could not take the chance of not fully protecting himself and believed that the tweet constituted a serious threat of violence. The judge’s petition was granted and the ASU student is now prohibited from going within 100 feet of the judge or contacting the judge in any way.
I’m not sure what surprises me more—that the judge applied for a protective order or that another judge actually granted it. Either way, this story clearly demonstrates just how seriously others will take your social-media postings—even if you, as the poster, don’t intend it to be taken as such.