What if you logged onto Facebook one morning, only to find notice that someone had sued you?
It could happen if the Texas Legislature passes House Bill 1989, by Rep. Jeff Leach, R-Plano. The bill would allow substitute service of citation through social media websites. A court could allow social media as a method of service if finding the defendant maintained a page on the social-media site, "regularly accesses" the page, and "could reasonably be expected to receive actual notice if the electronic communication were sent to the defendant’s account."
Texas Lawyer contacted Leach through Twitter and Facebook. Responding to the Facebook message, Leach referred Texas Lawyer to his Capitol office. He didn’t respond to a telephone call seeking comment before deadline.
Texas Lawyer reporter @AMorrisReports posted a tweet asking lawyers, "Your thoughts on substitute service through a defendant’s social media profile?" Here are some of their responses.
Patricia Baca, partner in Bennett & Baca in Fort Worth
Feb. 28, 10:44 a.m., Service through social media meets the 109a standard, but presents other issues that I cannot address in 140 characters.
Sara Foskitt, Austin solo
Feb. 28, 11:32 a.m., How would they determine the Defendant "regularly accesses" the social media site? I’m worried about due process here.
Shannon Edmonds, staff attorney for governmental relations, Texas District & County Attorneys Association
Feb. 28, 1:43 p.m., Yet another reason NOT to be on Facebook!
Jason Steed, associate with Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld in Austin
Feb. 28, 1:44 p.m., Seems potentially as or more effective than service by mail these days!
Christopher Murphy, in-house lawyer with Dell Inc. in Austin
Feb. 28, 2:28 p.m., Would depend on platform. FB messaging is probably better than publication. Twitter, others, generally as good as pub. today
Bradley B. Clark, partner in Grey & Becker in Austin
Feb. 28, 2:51 p.m. Bad bill; too vague; no SCOTX rule-making authority; social media not defined; is service really so hard we have to use SM?
Don Cruse, Austin appellate solo
Feb. 28, 7:57 p.m., Mixing real legal notices into social media would make it much harder to avoid clicking on malware or spear-phishing links.