When judges tells jurors not to discuss a case with anyone, they also mean via social networks such as Twitter.
A $12.5 million verdict is being challenged in Arkansas over a juror sending “tweets” – the 140-character posts on the Twitter micro-blogging network.
The motion for a new trial was filed Thursday on behalf of a building materials company in a suit won by two investors and described by one lawyer as a “Ponzi scheme” comparible to the Bernie Madoff case.
Lawyers for the defendant claim the juror filed eight tweets from his cell phone:
“One read in part: “oh and nobody buy Stoam. Its bad mojo and they’ll probably cease to Exist, now that their wallet is 12m lighter.”
Another describing what “Juror Jonathan” did today, read: “I just gave away TWELVE MILLION DOLLARS of somebody else’s money.”
I’ve used Twitter to cover trials, but judges have told jurors not to look at coverage over the Internet. They also tell jurors not to discuss the case outside of court. That would also mean don’t talk about it on Twitter.
It would appear the plaintiffs in this case might have an argument if the juror tweeted after the verdict and after the judge released him from duty.
Regardless, those involved in trials should be careful how they use the Internet and social networking.
Cindy Stanford (aka @WichitaCindy) told me she stopped following me on Twitter when she was called to jury duty in a the present Crips trial in federal court. She did not make the final jury panel and started following me again after she was released.