Courts, coach cry foul over Twitter

Jurors using popular microblogging service to post comments have thrown some cases into question. And a coach worries that NBA player's tweet at halftime sends the wrong message.

You know a Web app has come into its own when it gets banned in courtrooms and locker rooms.

Twitter, which went from being just another Web geek service to an Internet phenomenon lampooned on "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart," is now becoming a nuisance for at least two American institutions--the judicial system and the NBA.

Some judges and lawyers believe the integrity of trials is being threatened by jurors posting comments about cases on the popular microblogging service.

Lawyers for a building products company are asking an Arkansas court to overturn a $12.6 million judgment against the firm after a juror tweeted during the trial, violating court rules, The New York Times reports.

And in Pennsylvania, defense lawyers for a former state senator found guilty of corruption failed to persuade a judge to declare a mistrial after a juror posted updates on the case on Twitter and Facebook. The lawyers plan to use that for grounds for appeal, the newspaper reported.

For some jurors, the 140-limit of Twitter may be too limiting. A juror blogged about a drunk-driving case before and after a guilty verdict was rendered, in 2007. Regardless, the verdict was upheld and a request for a new trial was denied.

The report also found that jurors are using their iPhones and BlackBerrys to do research in cases, which also is forbidden.

The use of the Internet for research isn't new. In 2007, the conviction of a man accused of sexually abusing minors was reversed and a new trial was granted after two jurors searched for the alleged victims on MySpace.

Sports players are also communicating with their fans on Twitter. Although that is not likely to interfere with game scores, it is still worrisome, at least to Milwaukee Bucks coach Scott Skiles. He has asked his players not to use Twitter from the locker room after learning that Bucks forward Charlie Villanueva tweeted from his mobile phone during halftime on Sunday.

"In da locker room, snuck to post my twit. We're playing the Celtics, tie ball game at da half. Coach wants more toughness. I gotta step up," Villanueva tweeted using the screen name CV31, his initials and jersey number, according to the Associated Press.

The fact that the Bucks beat the Celtics 86-77 didn't really appease the coach.

"You know, (we) don't want to blow it out of proportion," Skiles said. "But anything that gives the impression that we're not serious and focused at all times is not the correct way we want to go about our business."

 

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