I thought that case was interesting, which is why I blogged about it. Security expert and cryptographer Bruce Schneier saw it as one example of a pattern of behaviors enabled by the Internet. It's part of the rise of an alternative system of jurisprudence. An excerpt from his recent article on Wired:
The court of public opinion is an alternative system of justice. It’s very different from the traditional court system: This court is based on reputation, revenge, public shaming, and the whims of the crowd. Having a good story is more important than having the law on your side. Being a sympathetic underdog is more important than being fair. Facts matter, but there are no standards of accuracy. The speed of the internet exacerbates this; a good story spreads faster than a bunch of facts.Mr. Schneier is onto something here. I found myself thinking along these lines recently, as I'm currently in a dispute with a large environmentalist organization. Seeking justice in a court of law is an intimidating, expensive, and very uncertain proposition. Seeking justice in the court of public opinion just might be a better alternative – though not one that occurred to me immediately. Apparently I'm more of a hidebound traditionalist than I thought I was :)
The court of public opinion has significant limitations. It works better for revenge and justice than for dispute resolution. It can punish a company for unfairly firing one of its employees or lying in an automobile test drive, but it’s less effective at unraveling a complicated patent litigation or navigating a bankruptcy proceeding.