Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Criminal defendants tweeting during trial

After seeing this piece from the ABA, it might be a good idea to tell clients to stay off social media before and during trial.

Sam Riddle, a political consultant in Michigan, went on trial on charges of public corruption and blasted his defense attorney while the jury was out deliberating.
  1. Until today I never understood the true depth that ineffective counsel could achieve. The 6th Amendment screams for justice.
  2. When your fate is in the hand of others, Man, THAT is not a good feeling. Especially when those that are to define you simply don't.
Steve Keefer, on trial for public corruption in Pittsburgh, took his frustration with the state's investigation out by tweeting during trial.
  1. cant resist... mazo testified that i saved the caucus millions of $ while i was director
  2. the good Lord, truth and justice will always win...
  3. especially when at the same time of his announcement, his ex-cos is testifying about how much of a waste HWD was...
  4. after 20 years in politics, i suppose i shouldnt be astounded any longer by the level of hypocracy...
  5. and then howard william deweese decides that he is holy enuff to run for office again...
  6. cant believe the balls of howard william deweese... he fired a bunch of people claiming they were engaging in corruption, yet he gets indict
  7. the attack was on the credibility of the evidense and its collection... not the wittness
  8. i've heard said, if ur opponent stoops to stealing ur yard signs, u must b in good shape
  9. AG's R worried about me saying anything bad about corbett or this phony investigation
  10. sorry folks... no more tweeting from trial...
  11. court is adjourned for the day... twitter issue is unresolved for me...
  12. stay tuned... i may be back
  13. sorry folks... AG must be worried... not allowed to tweet anymore...
  14. walk finished... excellent job of explaining
  15. Walk holds up stack of immunity agreements and explains the deals that witnesses are getting
  16. walk is doing a good job utlining the inconsistancies in the AG's charges
  17. polarmo finished remarks for peretta... brian walk is starting opening for cott
  18. day 2; opening remarks for cott and peretta this morning
  19. @Matt_Belanger don't forget to mention Matt that Merium Fox recieved the largetst bonus of 38K and she was never mentioned by the AG at all
  20. kevin harley: defense is making allegations trying to confuse jury... newsflash; hey kevin, phone records dont lie...
  21. corbett's campaign satff inside the courtroom today... it speaks volumes about what this trial is all about...
  22. waiting to see how the main stream media covers the fact that the AG objected to us showing corbett's own campaign phone records...
  23. adjourned for the day
  24. my aty has run through an entire list of things about this case in which the jury will NOT hear my name...
  25. slowly and methodically explaining how my office worked and the late hours we were required to work...
  26. my aty is beginning my opening remarks
  27. resuming opening remarks... defense is not allowed to show tom corbett's campaign phone records
  28. back from recess... its clear the judge wont allow us to talk about these phone records in open court... lawyers are on side bar now arguing
  29. AG lawyers freaked out... judge called an immediate recess... AG lawyers are frantically buzzing around
  30. defense just showed phone records from corbetts camapaign phones showing that corbett's campaign made hundreds of calls to state staff
  31. defense just quoted tom corbett as saying he juggles campaign work and state work all the time...
  32. btw, corbett has campaign staff here in the courtroom
  33. AG made first objection less than 5 minutes into our opening statement
  34. AG has concluded opening arguments... mentioned my name three times... once was to say that i had nothing to do with bonuses.
  35. all opening statements will be today... AG will start
  36. AG has 10 lawyers here
  37. waiting for attorneys to finish conference with judge. so far the AG has at least has at least six agents here
  38. If all goes as planed, I'm going to be sending updates during the trial...
  39. start
So what's the harm, you ask? Statements made by a party to a suit are admissible, even if the party who made the statement doesn't testify, because the statements aren't considered hearsay. In Mr. Riddle's case it may not matter because he waited until the jury took the case before posting updates -- but should one of the jurors go snooping around the internet...

Mr. Keefer's updates are far more troubling, however, because he began posting updates on Facebook and Twitter during the trial. Any comments he made could be introduced into evidence by the state if he made any harmful admissions.

The danger, of course, becomes greater in complicated multi-day trials when jurors have time to do a little "research" on the side.

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