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. Freedom From Religion Foundation: If you really want to be free from religion, don't go to the Christmas Play or the Christmas Pageant or the Christmas Parade. Anything with "Christ" or Saint...fill in the blank...would be off limits to you. Then leave the rest of us ALONE!

  2. So the prosecutor made an error and the defendants get a full remedy. Just one short paragraph to undo the harm of the erroneous prosecution. Wow. Just wow.

  3. Wake up!!!! Lawyers are useless!! it makes no difference in any way to speak about what is important!! Just dont tell your plans to the "SELFRIGHTEOUS ARROGANT JERKS!! WHO THINK THEY ARE BETTER THAN ANOTHER MAN/WOMAN!!!!!!

  4. Looks like you dont understand Democracy, Civilized Society does not cut a thiefs hands off, becouse now he cant steal or write or feed himself or learn !!! You deserve to be over punished, Many men are mistreated hurt in many ways before a breaking point happens! grow up !!!

  5. It was all that kept us from tyranny. So sad that so few among the elite cared enough to guard the sacred trust. Nobody has a more sacred obligation to obey the law than those who make the law. Sophocles No man is above the law and no man is below it; nor do we ask any man's permission when we ask him to obey it. Obedience to the law is demanded as a right; not asked as a favor. Theodore Roosevelt That was the ideal ... here is the Hoosier reality: The King can do no wrong. Legal maxim From the Latin 'Rex non potest peccare'. When the President does it, that means that it is not illegal. Richard Nixon