Tweetin' the Law

Posted By John Coletti || 20-Mar-2009

In a recent post I discussed the gag order some doctors are trying to place on their patients to prevent them from posting negative information online. As I mentioned, the Internet is everyone’s playground, and the rules are few. Now courtrooms are discovering this to be true, as jurors are dropping hints about trials and their possible outcomes on such social networking sites as Facebook and Twitter. Easy access to the Internet by jurors, whether through laptops or cell phones, means many tend to let slip information that attorneys and judges would prefer be kept in the courtroom.

This article discusses instances where the Internet or Tweeting and Facebook status updates caused some problems, including one trial that was declared a mistrial because the judge discovered more than half the jury had conducted online research about the trial, even after being instructed to avoid media about the case. Many attorneys believe judges need to be clearer in their instructions to juries and to specify that not discussing the case means not discussing it in person or online.

So, jurors beware and be careful what you tweet!