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Constitutional Law

Twitter Posts Put Some Individuals Arrested During Occupy Wall Street Protest on the Defensive

Posted Mar 23, 2012 11:48 AM CDT
By Martha Neil

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Arrested last October on the Brooklyn Bridge along with hundreds of other Occupy Wall Street protesters, Jeff Rae expected to fight the charges against him.

But now the 31-year-old Washington, D.C., resident decided to take a plea after prosecutors subpoenaed his Twitter account, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Although the Manhattan district attorney is doing so only in a handful of the cases against the protesters, according to the article, it is finding tweets can be useful in proving requisite intent.

"It is an attempt by the DA's office to use a sledgehammer to squash a gnat," said Martin Stolar, an attorney representing other protesters. "It's a little overkill."

Nonetheless, individuals need to recognize that such discovery can be an issue, said law professor Orin Kerr of George Washington University. "The lesson is, if you're speaking publicly and leaving a record as to who you are, that's information the government can legally access."

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