In the Trayvon Martin case, the court of public opinion has moved online, says the Poynter Institute. Last month, attorneys for George Zimmerman, who is facing second-degree murder charges in Martin's killing, launed a website, Facebook apge, and Twitter account to comment on developments in the case, solicit money for Zimmerman's defense, and interact with the public.
“[S]ocial media in this day and age cannot be ignored,” wrote Zimmerman attorney Mark O'Mara. “It is now a critical part of presidential politics, it has been part of revolutions in the Middle East, and it is going to be an unavoidable part of high-profile legal cases, just as traditional media has been and continues to be.” California attorney and legal ethicist John Steele and other observers agree that O'Mara's embrace of social media carries risk. “They just broke through a major wall by saying the way to defend is to start a website and put out news,” said Scott Greenfield, a New York attorney and blogger. “You have to understand the dynamic of the Internet and understand that you're playing with a monster that will devour you if you screw up.” He added, “Anything you put on the Internet is there forever, and no matter what you say, it can be used against you.”