Jennifer McCann must defend accused child-killer Levi Aron in court, but she’s also defending her client’s rights on Facebook — an unpopular move among some criminal defense attorneys.
McCann, 30, opened her practice in March and created a Facebook page after taking on the case following Aron’s July arrest. She said she created the page to correct public misconceptions about her case, but it has also opened the door for death threats, angry outcries and bad press that she said even hurt her business.
“I’m not defending a crime, I’m defending constitutional rights,” she argued. “I don’t see a difference between social media and traditional media.”
Her actions have garnered criticism from other prominent criminal defense attorneys.
Joseph Tacopina — who has defended Joran van der Sloot, Michael Jackson’s associates and, most recently, former cop Kenneth Moreno, acquitted of rape — said McCann’s decision to be on Facebook was the result of “inexperience.”
“I’m not on any social media network,” he said. “You should be focusing on the task at hand, not some dude in his dad’s basement in Des Moines, Iowa.”
Backlash, he said, comes with the job.
Nicole Black, an attorney and technology writer, warned that social media can be a blessing and a curse. “There is a wrong way to use it,” Black said. “I think she’s walking a fine line.”
Lawyer making herself a pariah?
Scott Greenfield, a criminal defense attorney with 30 years experience, said McCann's actions could threaten her career.
"This is the kind of thing that can make a young lawyer crash and burn," he said, warning that he behavior could maker her a "pariah" in the legal community.
Greenfield said the actions might get her headlines, but that McCann seems to be focused on her own career, not the fate of her client.
Follow Emily Anne Epstein on Twitter @EmilyatMetro.