Twitter + Reporters + a Courtroom = A Whole Lot of Controversy

Twitter is everywhere! This morning, on Good Morning America, one of the hosts said that there were 100,000 people following the show on Twitter–at that moment!  Yesterday, they answered questions submitted via Twitter during the live section of the program.  twitter icon

But the newsroom isn’t the only place experiencing serious changes as a result of the explosive popularity of microblogging.  The courtroom has had its own share of the Twitter craze. 

  • Earlier in the week, one of Pennsylvania’s biggest political corruption trials was interrupted temporarily when lawyers for the defendant, former State Senator Vince Fumo, learned that a juror had been tweeting and called for a mistrial. 
  • In an Arkansas case, lawyers for a building products company are asking the court to overturn a $12.6 million judgment after learning that a juror tweeted during the trial.  There, the juror is accused of posting this message via cell phone: “I just gave away TWELVE MILLION DOLLARS of somebody else’s money.” 
  • And, last week, a Florida judge declared a mistrial after no less than 9 jurors admitted to have researched the case online.

And the tweeting isn’t limited to reporters at a newsdesk. They’ve taken the show on the road–tweeting right from the heart of the action–in the courtroom.

What about the lawyers?  Oh, we’re tossing around the idea, too.  Kevin O’Keefe posted on ways that lawyers can (and should, according to O’Keefe), using Twitter as a marketing tool almost a year ago. 

Does the old adage, “If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em” apply when it comes to Twitter and the law?

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