Twitter in the courtroom

March 23, 2009
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Can Twitter cause a mistrial or possibly taint a trial? Yes it can, if you’ve read any recent news stories about jurors using the social networking tool to “tweet” about their experience on the jury.

Some guy in Arkansas sent messages on his Twitter account about jury selection and random messages while the case was at trial. The defendant in the lawsuit filed a motion for a new trial claiming the juror used his Twitter account to post information during, before, and after the trial that showed he was biased.

In a Philadelphia federal corruption trial, a judge allowed a juror to stay on after the defendant in a trial claimed the juror was putting trial posts on his Facebook and Twitter accounts. One post apparently alluded to a big announcement coming Monday, possibly meaning a verdict. The defense counsel claimed in their motion to remove the juror that he violated the court’s admonitions by posting the status of deliberations online.

Technology, while great at keeping us connected to the outside world, poses a big threat to trials. The ability to access the Internet on your cell phone is much more prevalent than it was just a few years ago, and I’m not sure how judges handle instructing jurors on their use of cell phones during trial. Of course, jurors aren’t supposed to talk about what’s happening or look for information outside of court on which to base their decision. But with your iPhone or Blackberry and a few simple clicks, a juror can Google the defendant’s name or post a note to their Facebook or Twitter.

Because this seems to be happening more due to the popularity of these social networking tools, are you in the legal community worried about how this may affect a trial you are involved in or do Indiana judges and courts take more precautions to prevent this from happening here? Any examples of this happening in our state?
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  1. I need an experienced attorney to handle a breach of contract matter. Kindly respond for more details. Graham Young

  2. I thought the slurs were the least grave aspects of her misconduct, since they had nothing to do with her being on the bench. Why then do I suspect they were the focus? I find this a troubling trend. At least she was allowed to keep her law license.

  3. Section 6 of Article I of the Indiana Constitution is pretty clear and unequivocal: "Section 6. No money shall be drawn from the treasury for the benefit of any religious or theological institution."

  4. Video pen? Nice work, "JW"! Let this be a lesson and a caution to all disgruntled ex-spouses (or soon-to-be ex-spouses) . . . you may think that altercation is going to get you some satisfaction . . . it will not.

  5. First comment on this thread is a fitting final comment on this thread, as that the MCBA never answered Duncan's fine question, and now even Eric Holder agrees that the MCBA was in material error as to the facts: "I don't get it" from Duncan December 1, 2014 5:10 PM "The Grand Jury met for 25 days and heard 70 hours of testimony according to this article and they made a decision that no crime occurred. On what basis does the MCBA conclude that their decision was "unjust"? What special knowledge or evidence does the MCBA have that the Grand Jury hearing this matter was unaware of? The system that we as lawyers are sworn to uphold made a decision that there was insufficient proof that officer committed a crime. How can any of us say we know better what was right than the jury that actually heard all of the the evidence in this case."

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