Saturday, September 19, 2015

Social Media FAIL! NHL Player Clayton Stoner Faces Charges for Illegal Hunt & Kill of Grizzly Bear due to Pictures that Surfaced on Social Media ~ Call Michael A. Haber, Esq. @ 1-888-SHARK-8-1

Clayton Stoner (pictured below) plays NHL ice hockey for the Minnesota Wild.  He is also a licensed hunter who is presently facing criminal charges over an alleged illegal grizzly bear hunt which occurred in British Colombia in 2013. 

Stoner has been to appear in court in Vancouver on October 9 to face charges for illegally killing a a five (5) y/o grizzly bear in the Kwatna Estuary.  He faces five (5) potential charges including making a false statement to obtain a hunting licence, hunting without a licence, hunting wildlife out of season and unlawful possession of dead wildlife.  The legal probe was launched after Stoner was seen on an undisclosed  social media site holding the severed head of a grizzly bear. 

Per Stoner:  "I grew up hunting and fishing in British Columbia and continue to enjoy spending time with my family outdoors.  I love to hunt and fish and will continue to do so with my family and friends in British Columbia.  I applied for and received a grizzly bear hunting license through a British Columbia limited entry lottery last winter and shot a grizzly bear with my license while hunting with my father, uncle and a friend in May."  In response to the allegations at hand Stoner reportedly claims that he had shot the bear in question with some friends, cut off its head and paws before skinning it and leaving its carcass for scavengers in the forest.  In contrast local environmentalists have reportedly lashed out at Stoner's strong stance on hunting, branding his actions "disgusting and barbaric".   Per Chief Stewart Phillip of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs:  "I don't think there's any place for this disgusting, barbaric, so-called sport of trophy-hunting in British Columbia."  In the interim, the provincial government reportedly hands out 300 licences each year and hunting, in turn, allegedly generates more than $300-million in annual revenue.

My unsolicited take:   Unless you are either hunting for food or are shooting out of necessity to protect your life then leave nature's majestic creatures alone.  In my opinion:  A) The only acceptable form of recreation shooting involves cameras and B) If you were a true sportsperson then you'd leave your firepower at home and face your adversary like a man, not a man with a bazooka.  

Can't we all just get along?

Memo to the Folks:  But for the social media post no-one (well no-one who wasn't physically present) would ever know about Clayton Stoner's douchebaggery (yes, I said that... it is my opinion, my blog post and my privilege, just as it is yours to agree or to disagree), and therein lies the lesson.  

Social Media provides the mechanics for rapid and global dissemination of information, forging bonds and deepening differences, and, like anything else, Social Media has it's positives and it's negatives.  It has brought folks together and it has been the imputes for folks to part ways.  It can help folks in a variety of ways but it can also hurt them, and this holds especially true as social media relates to criminal defense litigation. 

As a routine part of my practice I have now made it a condition of representation that, during the course of a case, my clients must refrain from non-business related Social Media posts and commentary.  I also caution them to be careful about cell phone use, especially text messaging. Why?  Because, Clouds, "i" or otherwise, cell towers, and GPS signals all leave traces which can be used for both identification and evidentiary purposes, as do Social media feeds (any information which is connected to you), and your phones, tablets, pads and computers all contain potentially incriminating evidence.  Some of this is there for the taking, free and easily accessible to the public (which includes law enforcement) and some of this is accessible by subpoena, most especially things that you think that you have deleted but which in fact still exist in cyber-land.

The facts are that law enforcement (cops and prosecutors) can, and will, get their grubby paws on your texts, Social Media communications (posts, comments and pictures alike) and can track your whereabouts, with or without a subpoena, and any private citizen who wishes can save, store and deliver anything that they wish to either the cops or the prosecution without any constitutional consequence whatsoever.  Further, once armed with YOUR Social Media materials, if they are relevant to your case then the same will likely be admissible as evidence against your interests.

Consider the DUI manslaughter case wherein the Defendant had posted pictures of her/himself earlier in the evening doing shooters at a bar.  Or the domestic violence case where the Defendant texted her/his friend stating how angry s/he he was at the alleged victim.  Or the thief who posts pictures of her/his booty?  If you follow my blog then you have seen examples such as these, and worse, and, sadly, they will continue, as most folks simply don't think about the potential consequences of their actions.

Here are a few recent examples which you can find on my blog:

1)    Bragging about Warrants:  A Texas man is arrested for bragging on Facebook about his sixteen (16) arrest warrants.  

2)    Child Porn:  A stolen cell phone is traced to it's prior owner after child porn images are found on the device.

3)    Theft:  iPad thieves post pictures which go to owner's iCloud and lead cops to them.

4)    Animal Cruelty:  Arkansas hunters kills cats and post videos which lead to arrest.

5)    Guns and Child Abuse:  Social Media posts foil illegal gun sale and leads to video of couple baiting a baby to put a pistol in her mouth. 

With that backdrop here are the 5 Rules:

Haber's Social Media Rule #1:  Think BEFORE you post.

Haber's Social Media Rule #2:   Once posted always posted.

Haber's Social Media Rule #3:   Don't post anything that you would not want your mother to read / see.

Haber's Social Media Rule #4:  Cops literally troll the internet looking for folks who go to, look in, download from or upload to targeted (and usually, but not always "deviant") sites.  They also conduct internet "stings", posing as children or deviants and looking to bag anyone foolish enough to take the bait.

Haber's Social Media Rule #5:  If it's even remotely relevant to a pending charge then prosecutors will cram your social media posts, and history (sites visited, searches made, etc) down your throat in court.

Watch Michael A. Haber, P.A.'s Webisode on Social Media and the Law by clicking on the YouTube link below....

Social Media:  It's all fun and nice until it's introduced into evidence against you in Court. See "Haber's Rules of Social Media # 1 - 5" at:

At Michael A. Haber, P.A. "Its all about reasonable doubt"!

Michael A. Haber, Esq. is prepared to speak with you about your case!

Cell: 305-798-2220; Office: 305-381-8686; Toll Free: 1-888-SHARK-8-1


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