A Philadelphia juror returned a verdict of guilty for former Pennsylvania state senator, Vince Fumo, today. Over the weekend, Fumo’s attorneys demanded that the jury’s deliberations be halted and requested a mistrial after one juror was caught posting about the trial on his Facebook page and twittering about an impending verdict. The defense argued that deliberations cease until the twittering juror was questioned about his online disclosures.
The judge complied with the request but, after questioning the juror, permitted the deliberations to continue. The judge stated that he was satisfied that the juror had not received any communications about the trial and that the juror’s impartiality had not been compromised.
The “tweets” were not specific enough for the judge to find that they were posted in violation of the court’s admonition against disclosing the status of jury deliberations. For example, “Stay tuned for a big announcement on Monday everyone!”
Just hours after being permitted to return, the jury came back, finding Fumo guilty on all counts–137 in all, including charges of corruption and obstruction of justice. The Fumo trial has been a focus of the Philadelphia news for the entire duration of the five-month trial. Once considered the most powerful Democrat in the state, Fumo was accused of defrauding the state Senate and others of $3.5 million to support his lavish lifestyle.
Given the attention surrounding the trial, is it really that surprising a juror just couldn’t help himself from talking about it–even in the vaguest terms–online?
This is not the first time Facebook has been in the news in Philly. Recently, a die-hard Eagles fan was fired for comments he posted on his Facebook profile that were critical of his favorite team’s decision to trade fan-favorite Brian Dawkins. Certainly, this is not the last story of its kind. Stay tuned and tune in.
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