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A-twitter over Twitter

I used my Twitter account for the first time last week while covering the Exxon verdict in Baltimore County Circuit Court. Turns out I chose to start using the “micro-blogging” site (which limits entries to 140 characters or less) just as “tweets” in the legal process were making headlines.

Earlier this month, a federal judge allowed a reporter in Kansas to “tweet” from a federal racketeering gang trial. Lawyers were worried jurors would read the posts, but a federal judge ruled jurors are already told to avoid news accounts of their trial, and Twitter would be no exception.

Then, on Friday, an Arkansas company said it would appeal a $12.6 million verdict because a juror tweeted during the trial. One of the posts read: “I just gave away TWELVE MILLION DOLLARS of somebody else’s money.”

The company’s lawyer said the messages demonstrate the juror “was predisposed toward giving a verdict that would impress his audience.”

All of this Twitter talk makes arguments about cameras in the courtroom seem kind of quaint, don’t you think?