Twitter Man Death Row – Twitter should not be used in court, especially if a man on trial is on death row. That’s exactly what happened when one juror sent text messages during a death row case that was proceeding. As a result, convicted murderer Erickson Dimas-Martinez will get a new trial.
The tweets he sent were complaints about the food and coffee.
As a result, the Arkansas Supreme Court just overturned Dimas-Martinez’s murder conviction after ruling that “it is in no way appropriate for a juror to state musings, thoughts or other information about a case in such a public fashion,” and ordered a new trial.
The court’s also going to consider whether people should have access to mobile phones during trials, but that seems to raise Eighth Amendment issues regarding cruel and unusual punishment.
In fact, that’s not all that happened, another juror was sleeping as the one next to him sent messages to his Twitter account during the actual death row court proceedings, despite the judge’s instruction not to post on the Internet or communicate with anyone about the case.
That made Dimas-Martinez’s attorneys motion for an appeal of his 2010 murder conviction in Arkansas. The lawyers also complained that another juror slept.
In one tweet, juror Randy Franco wrote: “Choices to be made. Hearts to be broken … We each define the great line.” Less than an hour before the jury announced its verdict, he tweeted: “It’s over.”
Other tweets by Franco made passing references to the trial, with posts such as, “The coffee sucks here” and “Court. Day 5. here we go again.”
The court said Franco, known as Juror 2 in court documents, violated general instructions to not discuss the case. Before opening arguments, the judge said: “Just remember, never discuss this case over your cell phone … and don’t Twitter anybody about this case.”