Inappropriate Twittering, Facebooking Leads to Criminal Appeals in Trials
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Following closely on the heels of the defendant who was acquited because the arresting officer revealed too much on MySpace and Facebook, two different trials are being appealed due to jurors Twittering and Facebooking about the trial, including in one extremely high-profile case.

In the case against State Senator Vincent Fumo of Pennsylvania, Senator Fumo’s lawyers are appealing his guilty verdict on charges of corruption on the basis that one of the jurors – Eric Wuest – posted comments about the trial on his Facebook pages. Wuest explained his actions by saying that they were his own “private musings”, but they included his saying, on Facebook, that folks should be ready for “a big announcement on Monday.” Fumo’s lawyers tried to have Wuest removed from the jury, saying that his comments showed his “tainted judgment”, but the judge overruled the request, and so now, following the guilty verdict, the defense is appealing on the same basis.


Over in Arkansas, juror Jonathan Powell sent several messages from the court house to his Twitter account, using his cell phone. Unfortunately, his messages about the trial against defendant building materials company Stoam Holdings included the legally explosive message “Oh, and nobody buy Stoam. It’s bad mojo, and they’ll probably cease to exist, now that their wallet is $12M lighter.

Defendant Stoam’s lawyers made a big deal out of that, claiming that Powell’s Twitter messages demonstrate that he was predisposed towards arriving at a verdict that would allow him to showboat for his Twitter followers, saying that they proved that Powell “was predisposed toward giving a verdict that would impress his audience.”

In his defense (no pun intended), Powell points out that his message were not sent out until well after the trial was over. As Powell told his Twitter followers, “Tweeting is just part of my daily routine. I didn’t really think about it affecting the trial. I followed all the jury rules. My tweets had nothing to do with the trial until it was over. It wasn’t until after that I commented on the trial.”

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For what it’s worth, we tend to agree with Powell – assuming that the verdict was already in, Powell’s comments could possibly be seen by the defense as flip or even cavalier, but hardly indicative of his mindset prior to the verdict. For all they know, he could have been the one hold-out, wanting to hand down a verdict of “not guilty”, and overcome and convinced by the others to render a guilty verdict.

Still, these stories should stand as a lesson for all involved with the court system, whether as a party to a case, or a juror: leave your cell phones and portable devices at home, sit on your hands, and keep your mouth – and your hands – quiet.

No Paywall Here!
The Internet Patrol is and always has been free. We don't hide our articles behind a paywall, or restrict the number of articles you can read in a month if you don't give us money. That said, it does cost us money to run the site, so if something you read here was helpful or useful, won't you consider donating something to help keep the Internet Patrol free?
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