Could a few tweets overturn a murder conviction?
“He’s paying more attention to his Twittering than the evidence”
The Arkansas Supreme Court will be soon be forced to answer this question. Apparently, a juror in a capital murder case was tweeting from the jury box and the jury room even though the judge admonished the juror not to tweet anything about the case. While the juror didn’t tweet about the substance of the case the juror did tweet that he was reluctant to deal with the death penalty and also tweeted “It’s over” from the deliberation room – before the jury announced it’s verdict.
“After even being brought in and questioned about it, he went back and twittered during the sentencing deliberations” 
This is a subject I have been paying close attention now for a few years. Technology has rapidly been wreaking havoc into the jury box and how it threatens the sanctity of our legal system.
While California Governor Jerry Brown may have recently signed a law prohibiting juror tweeting and other social media activity, jury instructions simply don’t go far enough. Jurors either need to face severe monetary or criminal sanctions OR they need their smatphones and electronic devices taken away from them when they enter the courtroom. Some have even proposed digital sequestration.
The problem will only continue to get worse. We have already had civil judgments vacated due to juror’s social networking activity. Now we have people’s lives at stake. Criminal defendants have a Constitutional right to a trial with an impartial jury. It is the bedrock of our criminal justice system.
We will soon find out if a few 140 character tweets are enough to violate a criminal defendants 6th Amendment rights and merit that a murder conviction be overturned. Jurors need to face severe penalties for undermining our justice system before it erodes even further.
The following is from a juror whose tweet vacated a $12.6 million civil verdict:
 Another juror was also caught sleeping. This story was first reported by the Associated Press and the Arkansas News Bureau. See Lawyer: Tweeting, sleeping by jurors cause to overturn Murder Conviction.