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Insights Insights
| 1 minute read

Meaning of Facebook Posts Goes to the Jury

A Virginia judge recently denied a school board's motion to dismiss a lawsuit based on newly-discovered Facebook posts. The suit started in 2019, brought by a student who alleges that the school was indifferent to her reports of sexual harassment. The school's lawyers argued that Facebook messages were posted by the plaintiff at the time of the alleged harassment, created a "fraud on the court" and should be grounds for dismissal. 

However, the judge noted that the plaintiff denied any memory of the posts. Thus, even if the school board could authenticate the posts, determining the credibility of the witnesses involved would require a mini-trial, a task better suited for a jury.

Social media can be a gold mine of information and evidence in legal cases, but it is crucial for lawyers to establish the credibility and authenticity of such evidence. Furthermore, authentication often involves issues of credibility, which judges reflexively send to a jury. To have a case dismissed because of social media posts, we lawyers must be certain that we have decisively excluded every possible alternative source and explanation of the posts.

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Alston said the Facebook messages that the school system says are proof of the plaintiff’s lies haven’t been authenticated. And as a legal matter, Alston said that even if the student lied about what happened to her, that alone wouldn’t be sufficient to toss out the lawsuit before it can be tried before a jury.


schools, child abuse, litigation, youth services law, ausburn_deborah, insights