Email and texting make it easy to send quick responses. That reality is a double-edged sword. In emotionally-charged moments, it is dangerously easy to respond or to vent about things using email and text messages, but my advice as a lawyer – don’t do it.
A person should always think about what they send via email or text as something that might be read aloud in court. Considering the amount of digital communication that we all use in today’s world, this thought can be chilling to many. This is why I advise my clients not to send any emails or texts when they are depressed, angry, or drunk (or a combination of these).
Electronic communications are making their way into courts more and more often. The casual (and sometimes inappropriate) ways that these communications are used has the potential to create real legal problems for clients, or at the very least, severe embarrassment and damage to professional reputations and relationships.
This is particularly true in the area of discovery. In Washington, general rules governing discovery are very broad. CR 26 (b)(1) will allow just about any information that is “reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence.” This qualifier could reasonably include those off-colored remarks about a colleague, or crass comments about a vendor that you have a personal issue with. Additionally, even if that information never makes it into a courtroom, it still may have to be disclosed to other parties and their attorneys as part of the discovery process. Over the years, I have seen many very embarrassed parties and read numerous materials that, at best, could be described as unflattering.
Bottom line: Be very careful what you put into emails and texts.
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