O'Mara may be the first criminal-defense attorney to use social media in this way.
It's easy to understand O'Mara's motives. He has already helped humanize Zimmerman and wants to maintain control over his image. He wants to correct falsehoods circulating about the case. And he wants to monitor the online conversations, hoping to glean nuggets of information that could be helpful to the defense.
But he's also providing another forum — as if there weren't enough already — for people to spout unsubstantiated theories and opinions about the man who killed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin and is claiming self-defense.
Some of the Facebook threads have more than 100 comments. You have to wonder whether O'Mara is helping to calm pretrial publicity — or fuel it.
"I hope you get Zimmerman acquitted so that I can go to Florida, stalk people because I don't like the way they look, and then shoot them if they dare defend themselves," one poster wrote on the Facebook site.
There's more like that. And worse.
I disagree with some of Kassab's assumptions. First, online comments and conversations will take place no matter what. Time Magazine called the Casey Anthony murder trial, the "Social Media Trial of the Century." Zimmerman's case will create a similar level of dialouge. So of course O' Mara's should participate. Why wouldn’t he enter the conversation, to share his points-of-view and better understand detractors. There is high value in both actions.
1) Ensure his side of story comes through unfilitered, through direct conversations that allow his team to stay on message and refute sentiment the team believes is incorrect.
2) Measure public sentiment and review a wide range of opinions, which will help guide jury selection, the defense process and PR efforts.
Of course O' Mara will draw heat by engaging online. But he and his client are taking plenty of heat anyway, and the upside he gains in sharing his message, listening and learning far outweighs dealing with the headaches.
O' Mara's level of direct participation may seem odd today. But it will become the norm in cases that generate contreversy and conversation -- locally or nationally. As is the case with business, there is too much upside to not participate.