Will twittering jurors land in hot water?

It appears that Twitter users are so dedicated to their art that they are even using it to give live updates of their time standing in judgement. In March Johnathan Powell was part of a US jury that found building firm Stoam Holdings guilty of mismanaging investors money. During the case, Stoam discovered that Powell was sending tweets concerning the court case. One of these in late February warned, "Oh, and nobody buy Stoam. It's bad mojo, and they'll probably cease to exist, now that their wallet is $12m lighter."

Stoam has seized on these Twitter updates as evidence that Powell was biased and is appealing against the judgement and asking for a new trial. Whether this action will be successful is still to be seen. One of the lawyers who successfully sued Stoam, reportedly told Associated Press that the "appeal is unlikely to be granted because Arkansas law requires only that outside information does not make its way into the court room. It is not illegal for court room information to be leaked outside."

It appears that other US legal defense teams are starting to look for their own Twitter leaks to see if there is any scope for getting their own mistrials. On Monday Senator Vince Fumo's legal team requested a halt to jury deliberations in his corruption trial because one of the members of the jury was sending tweets from the trial - even though they didn't contain any sensitive information. It'll be interesting to see how this all concludes - but many think that there is no case to answer.

Anthony Plewes

After a Masters in Computer Science, I decided that I preferred writing about IT rather than programming. My 20-year writing career has taken me to Hong Kong and London where I've edited and written for IT, business and electronics publications. In 2002 I co-founded Futurity Media with Stewart Baines where I continue to write about a range of topics such as unified communications, cloud computing and enterprise applications.