Snap Judgment

“Th[e] truth was laid bare... when Snapchat, the popular mobile messaging service, agreed to settle charges by the Federal Trade Commission that messages sent through the company’s app did not disappear as easily as promised.” – The New York Times

 

 

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT

------------------------------X

 

JOHN DOE, JANE ROE, and

literally hundreds of thousands

of others similarly situated,

 

Plaintiffs,

v.

 

EPHEMEROTIC, INC.,

Defendant.

------------------------------X

 

(In open court; case called)

 

THE COURT: Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, good morning and welcome back. Yesterday, you heard opening statements from both Mr. Brickman, the lawyer for the plaintiffs in this class action, and Ms. McCann, lawyer for the defendant corporation. Today, the plaintiffs will begin to present their testimony and exhibits.

Mr. Brickman, call your first witness.

 

MR. BRICKMAN: Thank you, Your Honor. The plaintiffs call “John Doe” to the stand.

 

JOHN DOE, called as a witness by the plaintiffs, having been duly sworn, testified as follows:

 

THE COURT: Please state your full name, first and last, spelling both names for the record.

 

THE WITNESS: Ah, I’d rather not, Your Honor.

 

THE COURT: I beg your pardon?

 

MR. BRICKMAN (INTERRUPTING): If I may remind the court, this entire case concerns whether the defendant failed to provide the users of its software the very high level of privacy promised. Specifically, the users of the Ephemerotic photo messaging application--or, “app”--were led to believe by the defendant’s misrepresentations that their photographs and videos, which users could modify with text and drawings, would not be stored or viewable on any device anywhere after the duration of between one and ten seconds chosen by the sender, even though this was not true, as the evidence will show.

 

THE COURT: I’m seventy-two years old, Mr. Brickman. Can you say that in words I’ll understand?

 

MR. BRICKMAN: I’ll try, Your Honor. Here... this is Plaintiffs’ Exhibit 1, which I was going to offer into evidence in just a moment. It’s a physical copy--a print--of a digital photograph that the witness took with his smartphone... his cellular... er, his portable telephonic contrivance that has a built-in camera... and which the witness then transmitted to his best friend’s girlfriend. While the witness will testify to his understanding that the photograph would cease to exist in any form mere seconds after he sent it to his friend’s girlfriend, because of shortcomings of the defendant’s software of which the witness and his fellow plaintiffs were completely unaware, we, the plaintiffs’ lawyers, were able not only to retrieve the photo from the defendant’s computer servers but also to print onto paper for use in this lawsuit. May I hand the photograph up to Your Honor at this time?

 

THE COURT: Go ahead.

 

THE WITNESS: Objection!

 

THE COURT: I’m sorry?

 

THE WITNESS: I object! I don’t want you to see that photo, Judge! I don’t want anyone to see that photo! I didn’t know anyone had that photo, and I certainly didn’t have any idea that it was going to be an exhibit in this lawsuit! Give me that photo! Give me all of the copies of that photo!

 

MR. BRICKMAN: Your Honor?

 

THE COURT: He’s your witness, Mr. Brickman. This is between you and him.

 

MR. BRICKMAN (to the witness): Brian--

 

THE WITNESS: Gah! Don’t use my real name! What’s wrong with you?! Do you not see this paper bag on my head?

 

MR. BRICKMAN: My apologies, “Mr. Doe.” My apologies to the Court as well.

 

THE COURT: That’s all right. Proceed.

 

MR. BRICKMAN (to the witness): “Mr. Doe,” if you would prefer that the judge and the members of the jury not be shown what was previously labeled “Plaintiffs’ Exhibit 1,” a photograph of your genitalia taken by you, annotated with text reading, ”Wish you were here!!” and sent to your best friend’s girlfriend, then I’m afraid we will be unable to use your testimony.

 

THE WITNESS: That's it.  I'm out of here.

 

[Whereupon the witness fled.]

 

THE COURT: Mr. Brickman, do you have a new witness?

 

MR. BRICKMAN: I’m afraid not. Mr. Gardn... er, “Doe” was the only person even willing to admit on the record that he’d used the defendant’s service.

 

THE COURT: Does that mean that the plaintiffs are discontinuing this action, counselor?

 

MR. BRICKMAN: No, Your Honor. I believe I can proceed by presenting evidence from members of the class at large. If I may hand a new photograph up?

 

[Whereupon MR. BRICKMAN handed a photograph to the BAILIFF. Whereupon the BAILIFF accepted the photograph, looked at the photograph, looked at MR. BRICKMAN, unholstered his sidearm, cocked his sidearm, raised his sidearm, and stated, “Oh, hell no.”]

 

MR. BRICKMAN: Maybe not that photograph. This one instead, Your Honor.

 

THE COURT: Is this... is this counsel for the defendant?

 

MR. BRICKMAN: Yes, Your Honor. Ms. McCann in fact sent me that photograph while we were both watching Game of Thrones in our respective homes. Although the costume obscures--

 

MS. MCCANN: Objection!

 

THE COURT: Sustained. Mr. Brickman, you have exactly one more chance to offer this court an acceptable exhibit.

[Whereupon MR. BRICKMAN looked through some papers at counsel’s table]

 

MR. BRICKMAN: Would Your Honor be willing to testify regarding a photo the court sent to Juror Number 6 after yesterday’s session with the textual annotation, “I’d like 2 preside over u”--

 

THE COURT: Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, you are dismissed with the thanks of the court. The case of John Doe et al. versus Ephemerotic is hereby dismissed with prejudice, and the reporter is ordered to see to it that every existing copy of the record of these proceedings, in whatever form, be made inaccessible by any person, by any means. We stand adjourned.

[Whereupon this transcript was destroyed forever.]

 

Matthew David Brozik is happily married and therefore has no need to transmit embarrassing messages through the ether. Read more at matthewdavidbrozik.com.

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