Juror's Tweets Overturn US Death Row Conviction

By Sam Gibbs on at

Twitter's got the power to fuel change for the good -- at least Egypt certainly thinks so -- but there's also the power of Twitter to interfere with due process, and that's exactly what's happened here. A convicted murderer may escape the death penalty in the US, after a juror tweeted about the case during the trial, causing the Supreme Court to overturn his conviction.

Even though the tweets didn't reveal any specifics about the case, it was argued that the tweets breached the rights of the defendant in question -- a public discussion regardless if it was one-way or not. The appeal against the conviction was upheld on those grounds, which has spurred an investigation into whether juror mobile phone use should be restricted in the US. This follows a similar warning about the internet and the integrity of trials in the UK by the Lord Chief Justice for England and Wales.

Jury duty is annoying enough without being cut off from the internet, but should jurors be isolated for the best chance of a fair trial? It's certainly difficult to not be influenced by what you read in the media or on the wider internet, but I certainly wouldn't be happy being disconnected like that -- I get itchy and break out into a rash if I get unplugged for too long. [BBC]

Image credit: Judge from Shutterstock