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Twittering the Blow by Blow of Courtroom Action Is the Latest Onslaught by Technology on the Court System

A hardy thank you to Robert J. Ambrogi over at Robert Ambrogi’s LawSites for posting the following article on Facebook titled “Judge Shuts Down NewWest.Net Twitter Feed from Yellowstone Club Trial” by Courtney Lowery.  Federal Bankruptcy Judge Ralph B. Kircher shut down the use of Twitter in his courtroom.

About an hour after proceedings began, the Judge requested a side conversation with lawyers about the “communication of proceedings outside courtroom.

Jonathan wrote on Twitter: “Issue: later witnesses are not allowed to hear earlier witnesses. Judge calls recess to allow lawyers to tell witnesses: stay off Twitter!”

A short while later, Jonathan wrote: “The last #YCtrial tweet: Judge has ruled no Twittering of the trial. I am disappointed but that is the ruling.”

Here are some of the latest feeds below:

  • NewWest.Net/Boise and editor Jill Kuraitis @Kuraitis win big time at Idaho press awards. Nice work Jill! -court about 19 hours ago
  • I can at least update at breaks etc. The Judge also agrees this all needs further thought and is open to discussion. #YCtrial 1 day ago
  • Re Tweeting the trial: I had another conversation with Judge Kirscher. No live Tweeting when court is in session but... #YCtrial 1 day ago
  • My latest story on the Yellowstone Club trial is up: #YCtrial 1 day ago
  • In other NW/Twitter news :) Sharon Fisher writes about Idaho Governor's fight for the Real @ButchOtter: 2 days ago
  • Can I post to NewWest.Net (but not Twitter) from the courtroom? Judge is busy, don't want to split hairs but not sure the rules #YCtrial 2 days ago
  • Honestly not 100% sure what this mean - can I Twitter testimony end of day? How is that different from a story on New West? #YCtrial 2 days ago

There is little doubt that technology continues to press the edges of the first amendment right to free speech and access to the courts.  Many judges will seek to shut down these technologies, including Twitter, in order to reduce the chance of juror bias (jurors aren’t supposed to receive any information concerning trials on which they sit except through the evidence that comes in through the judge).  It seems to me like shutting down live Twitter feeds is like putting your finger on a leak at the Hoover Dam.  Our time would better be served trying to figure out new ways of enforcing the jury instructions which tell jurors they are not to do any Google or other research concerning a case during trial, rather than precluding the rest of the world from knowing what’s going on.


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