As if anyone needed a reminder that their online lives are on public display, recent events have driven the point home yet again. Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel, a.k.a “Johnny Football,” was pulled over and issued a ticket for allegedly speeding near Dallas. The presiding judge, Lee Johnson, then posted about the ticket on his Facebook feed. How can an example of the potential embarrassment of social media discovery be any clearer?
The screen shot from Judge Lee’s Facebook feed reveals the full posted comment:
“Too funny. So it seems that a certain unnamed (very) recent Heisman Trophy winner from a certain unnamed ‘college’ down south of here got a gift from the Ennis P.D. while he was speeding on the 287 bypass yesterday. It appears that even though the OU defense couldn’t stop him, the City of Ennis P.D. is a different story altogether. Time to grow up/slow down young ‘un. You got your whole life/career ahead of you. Gig Em indeed.”
As a postscript, a few moments later, Judge Lee added: “I meant to say ‘allegedly’ speeding, my bad.”
In response, Ennis City Manager Steve Howerton issued a news release stating that “receiving a traffic ticket is not a humorous matter. Further, it is not the policy of the city of Ennis to indiscriminately publish the identity of traffic ticket recipients or to publicly lecture them.” He also added that Judge Lee’s post was “insensitive and inappropriate.”
Truth and Consequences
Although the judge has been officially reprimanded, it’s unknown whether he ever connected directly with Manziel to apologize on a personal level. Regardless of whether an apology is ever issued or accepted, Judge Lee’s actions are viewed as inappropriate at best and unethical at worst.
Judge Lee has been a municipal court judge for 25 years, since 1987. This is not the case of a young upstart who hasn’t learned the ropes yet and simply doesn’t know any better. Instead, the incident serves as an example of how even the most seasoned professionals can make serious missteps when it comes to social media discovery.
Although this specific incident is not linked to a court case (other than a traffic violation), it’s a great example of how one ill-timed comment can drastically impact litigation. During social media discovery, your online life is subject to public scrutiny and an impulsive, innocent online act can reflect poorly on you down the road. Proceed to your Facebook page with caution.
(photo courtesy of aggieathletics.com)
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