Trials & Litigation

Juror Tweets in $12.6M Case Teach Lawyer a Lesson: Ask About Web Use


“Juror Johnathan” may have been a bit of a twit, as the N.Y. Daily News said in a headline, for posting tweets on Twitter.com while awarding a $12.6 million verdict in an Arkansas case.

But his real-time brief posts to the Internet social networking site about his work as a juror don’t require a mistrial, a judge in the Washington County Circuit Court case decided Friday, the Associated Press reported.

Upholding the late February verdict in a case brought by investors against Russell Wright and his Stoam Holdings building materials company, Judge Mark Lindsay said the tweets by Johtnathan Powell, 29, were in bad taste but didn’t rise to the level of improper conduct, according to the news agency.

Although his client’s verdict stands, attorney Greg Brown, who represented one of the plaintiff investors, says he has learned an important lesson from the case, the AP recounts. In the future, Brown says, he will ask potential jurors about cell phone and Internet use.

Powell, for his part, says the judge’s ruling vindicates his conduct. “He said I didn’t break any of the jury instructions, and that’s kind of what I’ve been telling everybody all along,” he told the AP on Friday.

Powell, who made his most inflammatory posts after the jury had already reached its verdict, made the at-trial Twitter posts during breaks. At that point, he focused primarily on his understandable excitement about serving as a juror, the judge found, rather than the case itself, reports the Northwest Arkansas Times.

“The courts are just going to have to catch up with the technology,” Powell tells the newspaper.

Hat tip: Legal Blog Watch.

Related coverage:

ABAJournal.com: “Lawyers Fume Over Juror Twitter Posts; Blogger Wonders What Would OJ Tweet”

ABAJournal.com: “A Shock for Judge Zloch: 9 Jurors in 1 Trial Doing Web Research”

Associated Press (published in N.Y. Daily News): “What a Twit! Twitter-using juror may cause $12.6 million mistrial”

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