Twittering Permitted From Federal Racketeering Trial


In a victory for news technology in federal courts, a judge in Kansas is allowing a reporter to use the microblogging service Twitter to provide constant updates from a racketeering gang trial, the Associated Press reports. It’s not the first time online streaming has been allowed in courtrooms, but the practice is rare in federal criminal cases. Lawyers voiced concern about the possibility that a juror might visit the online site to read the posts from Ron Sylvester of the Wichita Eagle, but U.S. District Judge J. Thomas Marten said jurors are always told to avoid newspaper, broadcast and online reports. “You either trust your jurors to live with the admonishment, or you don’t,” he said.

In other federal cases: A judge in Massachusetts granted a request in January for online streaming of a hearing in a recording industry lawsuit against a Boston University student accused of downloading music illegally. A judge in Sioux City, Ia., allowed a Cedar Rapids Gazette reporter to offer live blog updates in a January tax fraud trial from a laptop computer. The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York allowed live television coverage in December of arguments in the case of a Canadian engineer who wants to sue the U.S. for mistaking him for a terrorist and sending him to Syria. Bloggers covering the 2007 CIA leak trial of former Vice President Dick Cheney’s chief of staff, I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, were given the same credentials as traditional journalists.

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