Twitter has made the impossible possible. By tweeting everything from one’s latest escapades to what they ate for dinner, users are now privy to a social network that redefines relationships. The world is at your fingertips. With just a few taps on your cell phone you can update your online status and be known around the world if you so desire.
Apparently, this is exactly what some jurors are allowing in their courtrooms as well. Sound sketchy? It’s true! The hallowed halls of some courtrooms are now being frequented by cell phone toting journalists who are allowed to Tweet proceedings from the courtroom directly to their own Twitter page.
According to The Telegraph, this was the case in the infamous hearing of the Wikileaks founder, Julian Assange, when Chief Magistrate Howard Riddle, made legal history by allowing live updates to be sent from his court on the social networking website. This unusual request was granted on the premises that it be done ‘quietly’ and would not disturb the court. This grant was taken full advantage of by the Times Journalist Alexi Mostrous and the ‘Freedom for Information’ activist, Heather Brooke.
Now you must be thinking: Aren’t mobile phones considered ‘recording equipment’ as well, which by the way, are banned from courtroom hearings for a reason? Not anymore! It has been discovered that some senior judges are seriously considering the issue on whether the world should be allowed a peek at live court hearings, in the form of updated Tweets.
Mobile Tweeting has prevailed apparently because journalists were also allowed to Tweet ‘live text based messages’ from the court hearing of the disgraced social politician, Tommy Sheridan. The infamous politician had been accused of lying in court regarding his adulterous escapades and was sentenced to three years in jail for it as well.
The media was not the only entity that took advantage of this newsworthy event. The trial may have spelled bad news for this political butterfly, but it spelled great news for other social media sites as well. The blogger, James Doleman, was specifically praised for producing widely acclaimed daily updates for his blog followers on ALL 48 days of the case.
This may not be the case for long though. Granted, the lord chief justice did allow the media to Tweet in court, be he also made it clear that he would not tolerate ‘non-journalists’ to partake of the offer. In other words, the judge believes distractions in court could be minimized, or done away with altogether, if only journalists were allowed to Tweet so as to maintain a professional environment in the courtroom itself.
On the other hand, informing the world of legal hearings in real-time is not sitting well with some court officials. According to the Judicial office of Scotland, it will be ‘highly unlikely’ that anyone (be they journalist or blogger) will be allowed to tweet during court trials as that may compromise the ‘proper administration of justice’. On the other hand, a verdict may allow to be tweeted.
How will it all play out? As is the case in nearly any issue that involved technology and law, time will tell. But for now, don’t be surprised if you don’t see more tweeting and social media updates in US courtrooms as well.