Are Tweeting Bans a First Amendment Violation? - Articles

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Posted by: Suzanne Craig Robertson on Apr 17, 2012

The use of Twitter is putting reporters on a collision course with judges who fear it could threaten a defendant’s right to a fair trial. The tension was highlighted recently by a Chicago court’s decision to ban anyone from tweeting or using other social media at the upcoming trial of a man accused of killing Oscar winner Jennifer Hudson’s family. A spokesman for the American Civil Liberties Union said Tweeting and social media are "merely the 21st century version of what reporters have always done — gather information and disseminate it." But the judge in the Illinois case fears that feverish tweeting on smartphones could distract jurors and witnesses when testimony begins next Monday. "Tweeting takes away from the dignity of a courtroom," said a media liaison for Cook County Judge Charles Burns. "The judge doesn't want the trial to turn into a circus." The Associated Press has more. The First Amendment Center reports on a Kansas judge who declared a mistrial in a murder trial after a newspaper reporter tweeted a photo that included the grainy profile of a juror, and how many college coaches are considering Twitter bans for student-athletes.