Social Networking Fears Befuddle Some Courts, Lawyers


“What is Twitter?” befuddled criminal defense attorney Scott Rosenblum asked after a St. Louis judge instructed a jury to stay away from it. Social networking Web sites like Twitter, Facebook, and MySpace are creating a buzz in St. Louis area courts, where there are worries of the kind of jury misconduct seen elsewhere, says the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. In some places, jurors have electronically polled friends about how to vote on a verdict. Some have revealed biases before deliberations. Experts say the quick and quiet communications provide an opportunity to skew justice.

Anne Reed, a Milwaukee attorney who blogs about juries, suggests that worries may have ballooned nationally because judges and lawyers are uncomfortable with new technology. “Most older lawyers and judges have no personal exposure to these ways of communicating,” Reed said. “They’ve only heard about the scary things that their children are doing with it. So when it suddenly pops up unexpectedly in the courtroom, it’s startling to them.”

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