Social media, now more than ever, is impacting our criminal justice system in unique and unexpected ways. The most recent example of this can be found in the motion filed by Jodi Arias’ attorney’s, who are asking that jurors in her retrial be mandated to reveal whether or not they have a Twitter account.
“…Ms. Arias…ask (s) this Court [to] compel all jurors seated in her case to disclose any Twitter accounts…[as] this information is essential in that said information is a crucial tool with which Ms. Arias can work with to ensure that her jury are either not communicating about the case via Twitter or considering information that was sent to them via Twitter as opposed to what is presented to them in court.”
Her lawyers argue that even though jurors had received daily admonishments to refrain from communicating about the case, not all of them did. They noted that alternate Juror #17, Tara Kelley, used Twitter to communicate about the case, and “obviously misunderstood the Admonition and did not follow it…[though] counsel was unaware of the violations during trial.”
Her attorney’s noted that Ms. Kelley commented about Jodi’s temper on Facebook.
They also say that “in her retrial, Ms. Arias must endeavor to paint a complete picture of whom she is and why she deserves a sentence of life. In this regard she must be able to do so free from external influences of which she is not aware…Without the means to fully monitor the jurors this court cannot fulfill its duty to Ms. Arias, nor can Ms. Arias assert any concerns of this nature unless she has the means to monitor the Twitter activity of her jury.”
Jodi will be returning to court on August 26, 2013. It is expected that Judge Stevens could rule on this issue.
If the judge does rule in favor of Arias, would this mean that jurors will be prohibited from having a Twitter account, or any social media accounts?
If they are permitted to maintain their twitter accounts, would they have to reveal what they tweet and all of their interactions with others on Twitter? If so, who would be in charge of monitoring their accounts?
There have been no reports regarding what the prosecution thinks about this motion. It will be interesting to see whether they will respond to Nurmi and Willmott. Should the prosecution respond, they might take issue with the fact that Jodi Arias used Twitter during her murder trial, and continues to communicate via Twitter from behind bars.
Maybe Juan Martinez can use this opportunity to develop a creative legal strategy that will, once and for all, prevent Jodi Arias from using social media.
All in favor?