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More Twittering From the Courtroom

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this post incorrectly stated that Kansas-based reporter Ron Sylvester would be reporting on a trial in Colorado.

Last May, we wrote here about Ron Sylvester, the Wichita Eagle reporter who was covering a capital murder trial through a series of Twitter posts -- each capped at 140 characters. At her blog Deliberations, lawyer Anne Reed called Sylvester's work "Twitter journalism." Now, he's speaking up in defense of tweeting in a Colorado courtroom. Earlier this week, a judge in Boulder, Colo., dismissed the objections of prosecutors and defense lawyers in a child-abuse case and ruled that the use of cell phones and computers will be permitted in the courtroom.

According to reports in the Boulder Daily Camera and The Colorado Independent, lawyers objected that live-blogging and tweeting the sensational case could interfere with defendant Alex Midyette's right to a fair trial by tipping sequestered witnesses to proceedings in the courtroom. But Boulder District Judge Lael Montgomery said she would give clear instructions to jurors to refrain from reading or viewing any media accounts of the case. "I think there are other manageable options and less restrictive options than shutting down the flow of information during the trial," she said.

At least two other newspapers have practiced Twitter journalism in a courtroom. A newspaper in Spokane, Wash., the Spokesman Review, had a reporter post to Twitter to report on closing arguments in a capital murder case there in August. And the Orange County Register is currently covering the corruption trial of a former sheriff on Twitter as OCcrimescene. Even lawyers are getting into the act of tweeting from court. Lawyer/podcaster Jersey Todd told me in a Tweet this morning that he sometimes posts to Twitter from the counsel table during trial.

Thanks to Social Media Law Student for pointing out this latest instance of Twitter court reporting.

Posted by Robert J. Ambrogi on January 6, 2009 at 02:58 PM | Permalink | Comments (2)


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