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The Twitter trial
A judge in the US banned a local newspaper from live tweeting during a trial in the courtroom. But judges in Australia have ruled otherwise. Whom do you agree with?
November 10, 2009 10:59 by Aarti Nagraj
A US federal judge has passed a ruling that a Georgia-based newspaper, Columbus Ledger-Enquirer, cannot tweet the proceedings from a drug trafficking trial, reports The Daily Online Examiner. According to the law, broadcasting criminal cases is banned, and Judge Clay Land ruled that tweeting was a form of broadcasting because it “would result in casting to the general public and thus making widely known the trial proceedings.”
“The contemporaneous transmission of electronic messages from the courtroom describing the trial proceedings, and the dissemination of those messages in a manner such that they are widely and instantaneously accessible to the general public, falls within the definition of broadcasting,” he said.
This is not the first time that a judge has ruled against tweeting in court. In April this year, a US federal judge in Missoula, Montana, asked an online journalist to stop tweeting about a high-profile law suit involving private ski resort Yellowstone Club. Jonathan Weber, the editor of NewWest.Net had been live blogging the trial through Twitter for two days.
However, on the second day, Weber wrote on Twitter: “Issue: later witnesses are not allowed to hear earlier witnesses. Judge calls recess to allow lawyers to tell witnesses: stay off Twitter!”
A little while later, he added: “The last #YCtrial tweet: Judge has ruled no Twittering of the trial. I am disappointed but that is the ruling.”