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The Emoji’s Gambit: Legal Issues in Admitting Emojis as Symbols of Evidence

Level: Advanced
Runtime: 93 minutes
Recorded Date: August 18, 2021
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  • Learn to differentiate various emoji
  • Learn about court cases where emoji were relevant
  • Understand issues related to the use of emoji in the courtroom and life
Runtime: 1 hour, 33 minutes
Recorded: August 18, 2021

Difficulty: Experienced Attorneys (Non-Transitional)


Although emojis are expressive and very popular, they can have varied meanings. A "Cute" emoji signals a myriad of connotations which may lead to "ugly" legal issues in contracts to torts and criminal law to intellectual property. The stakes for using emojis continue to rise resulting in monetary sanctions to incarceration. Lawyers and judges should be aware of the various trending evidentiary issues in admitting emojis in our courtrooms.

This program was recorded on August 18th, 2021.

Provided By

American Bar Association
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Jin-Ho King

Founding Partner
Milligan Rona Duran & King, LLC

Jin-Ho King is a founding partner in Milligan Rona’s Boston and New York offices. He concentrates his practice in criminal and civil appeals and litigation. He represents individuals and organizations seeking thoughtful guidance through complex disputes, investigations, and prosecutions.

Mr. King has wide-ranging litigation experience, giving him keen insight on the diverse issues his clients face. Just in the past few years, Mr. King has won a federal copyright infringement jury trial, successfully reversed the criminal conviction of a factually innocent defendant, and recovered millions for a business client in a licensing dispute. Individuals and organizations seek Mr. King’s counsel because he communicates thoughtfully and effectively with generalist judges and lay jurors alike no matter the subject area—whether in criminal law, intellectual-property rights, or high technology.

Prior to forming Milligan Rona, Mr. King was an associate at a small Boston-based litigation firm for several years. Mr. King has also worked as a summer associate at a large law firm in Boston, as a public defender intern with the Committee for Public Counsel Services, and as an English editor and translator for an international law firm in China and Taiwan.

Mr. King received his Bachelor of Arts from Cornell University and his Juris Doctor with Honors from the George Washington University Law School. In law school, he served as the editor-in-chief of the George Washington International Law Review.

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Nicole "Nikki" Garlic, J.D., LL.M

Co-Director, Justice Management Program
University of Nevada at Reno

As a practicing attorney, Nikki Garlic worked alongside federal judges in adjudicating and managing both civil and criminal cases, and brings with her a wealth of expertise on the law and courts. She also is a doctoral candidate in Temple University’s Klein College of Media and Communication. Merging communication studies and law, her teaching and research focus is on the relationship between communication technologies and the fair administration of justice. Her favorite pastimes are watching foreign films and hiking with her family.

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Judge Linda Marie Bell

Eighth Judicial District Court, Department 7

The Honorable Linda Marie Bell serves as a judge in the Eighth Judicial District Court of Clark County. Judge Bell was elected in 2008 and took the bench in January of 2009. She presides in Department 7 where she hears calendars for the Adult Criminal Division Specialty Courts including Drug Court, Felony DUI Court, Mental Health Court, Veterans Court and the O.P.E.N. probation program. Judge Bell also serves as the Grand Jury Judge for the Eighth Judicial District Court.

A life-long Nevada resident, Judge Bell graduated with honors from Bonanza High School and the University of Nevada, Reno. Her undergraduate degree is in psychology, with a minor in studio art. In 1993, Judge Bell received her law degree magna cum laude from the University of San Diego, School of Law. While in law school, Judge Bell served as an articles editor for the University of San Diego Law Review. She also received moot court awards for writing and oral advocacy. During law school, Judge Bell worked for the Clark County District Attorney's Office and the San Diego Public Defender's Office. Following law school, she studied ethics and policy at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

Judge Bell was admitted to the Nevada State Bar in October of 1993. After graduation, she worked as a law clerk to the Honorable Sally Loehrer in the Eighth Judicial District Court. Following her clerkship, Judge Bell worked in Las Vegas law firms, practicing primarily in the areas of medical malpractice and family law. For twelve years prior to taking the bench, Judge Bell served as a public defender. She spent five years as a Clark County Public Defender, handling all manner of criminal cases. She then spent seven years in the non-capital post-conviction unit of the Law Offices of the Federal Public Defender, handling complex post-conviction cases in Nevada's state courts, the United States District Court and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Judge Bell argued eleven cases before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, including the published case of Chambers v. McDaniel.

Currently, Judge Bell serves on the board of the Nevada District Judges Association. She graduated from the Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce Leadership Las Vegas program in 2008 and remains actively involved in Leadership Las Vegas, co-chairing the criminal justice day committee. She regularly participates in the Trial by Peers program and was honored as the Trial by Peers Judge of the Year in 2011. Judge Bell is a member of the Howard D. McKibben American Inn of Court and currently holds the position of President. Judge Bell has also previously served on the Court Records Subcommittee, previously served as a CASA, a board member of Family and Child Treatment, a board member of the Southern Nevada Women Attorneys and a board member of the Nevada Attorneys for Criminal Justice.

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Eric Goldman

Associate Dean of Research, Professor of Law & Co-Director, Hight Tech Law Institute
Santa Clara University School of Law

Eric Goldman is a Professor of Law at Santa Clara University School of Law in the Silicon Valley. He also co-directs the High Tech Law Institute and supervises the Privacy Law Certificate. He joined the Santa Clara Law faculty in 2006.

His research and teaching focuses on Internet, IP and advertising law topics, and he blogs on these topics at the Technology & Marketing Law Blog []. Managing IP magazine has twice named him to a shortlist of North American “IP Thought Leaders,” and he has been named an “IP Vanguard” by the California State Bar’s IP Section.

Before joining the Santa Clara Law faculty, he was an assistant professor at Marquette University Law School in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Before that, he practiced law for eight years in the Silicon Valley as General Counsel of and an Internet and technology transactions attorney at Cooley Godward LLP.

Eric received his BA, summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa, in Economics/Business from UCLA in 1988. He received his JD from UCLA in 1994, where he was a member of the UCLA Law Review, and concurrently received his MBA from the Anderson School at UCLA.

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Hon. Colleen O'Toole

Judge (fmr.)
Eleventh Court of Appeals

Colleen O'Toole is a former judge of the Ohio Eleventh District Court of Appeals. O'Toole lost the primary on May 8, 2018.

Previously, O'Toole was elected to this position in November 2, 2004, to a term that ended on February 8, 2011.[1][2]

O'Toole was a 2016 candidate for the Ohio Supreme Court.[3] She was defeated in the March 15 primary by Judge Pat Fischer.

Judge O'Toole began her legal career in 1991 as a law clerk and a litigation and appellate attorney in the Cuyahoga County Public Defender's Office. After this, she worked as a litigation manager for the National Interstate Company. In 1995, she began working as counsel with the firm Kramer and Niermann, LPA. Then, in 1998, she opened her own practice, Law Offices of Colleen M. O'Toole. She has practiced in the areas of civil, criminal, corporate and family law. In 2004, she was elected to the Ohio Eleventh District Court of Appeals.

Judge O'Toole received her undergraduate degree in history and political science from John Carroll University in 1984 and her J.D. from the Cleveland-Marshall College of Law in 1991.

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Dr. Stephanie Domitrovich

Sixth Judicial District of Pennsylvania

Judge Stephanie Domitrovich, Ph.D., J.D., is a general jurisdiction state trial judge for Erie County, Pennsylvania. In addition to teaching for the University of Nevada, Reno, Justice Management Program, she is a faculty member for the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges and Gannon University. Judge Domitrovich has a Ph.D. in Judicial Studies, an MJS, major in Juvenile Justice, and an MJS, major in Trial Judges, from the University of Nevada, Reno; a J.D. from Duquesne University School of Law and a Bachelor of Arts in History (summa cum laude) from Carlow University. She is past chair of the National Conference of State Trial Judges (NCSTJ) which is one of the conferences in the Judicial Division of the American Bar Association (ABA). She is past president of the Pennsylvania Conference of State Trial Judges as well as the Northwest PA Chapter of the American Inn of Courts. She is currently the chair of the forensic science committee of the Judicial Division of the ABA. She serves as chair of the jurisprudence section of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences (AAFS). She is chair of the children and family law committee of the NCSTJ. She serves on the executive committee of the French Creek Council of the Boy Scouts of America. She facilitates the truancy task force of Erie County, PA wherein over 80 community stakeholders work on projects to eliminate truancy. She is involved with many community boards and organizations. She has conducted numerous presentations on court experts and scientific evidence and she has participated in the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to educate judges in the former Soviet Republic nations of Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan.

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Hon. Ronald J. Hedges

Senior Counsel

Ronald is a member of Dentons' Litigation and Dispute Resolution practice group. He has extensive experience in e-discovery and in the management of complex litigation and has served as a special master, arbitrator and mediator. He also consults on management and discovery of electronically stored information (“ESI”).

Ron Hedges was a United States Magistrate Judge in the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey from 1986 to 2007. While a magistrate judge, he was the Compliance Judge for the Court Mediation Program, a member of the Lawyers Advisory Committee, and both a member of, and reporter for, the Civil Justice Reform Act Advisory Committee. From 2001 to 2005 he was a member of the Advisory Group of Magistrate Judges.

Ron was an adjunct professor at Seton Hall University School, where he taught mediation skills. He was an adjunct professor at Georgetown University Law Center and remains an adjunct professor at Rutgers School of Law—Newark. He taught courses on electronic discovery and evidence at both these schools. Ron was a Fellow at the Center for Information Technology of Princeton University for 2010-11 and 2011-12. He is also a member of the College of the State Bar of Texas.

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