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Can You Twitter from a Courtroom?

The answer is a mixed bag, with the least favorable outcomes in federal court under the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure.

In a recent federal criminal case in Georgia, the Judge in U.S. v. John Mark Shelnutt wrote that, “the request to ‘tweet’ from the courtroom is denied.  According to the 4-page opinion, Rule 53 prohibits photographs and “broadcasting” from inside the courtroom.  The court acknowledges that “broadcasting” usually refers to TV or radio, it relied on Webster’s to broadly define broadcasting as widely disseminating information.  3733948174_b215e57968

Stated in more federal court-like manner, the judge concluded that contemporaneous transmission of electronic messages of courtroom activities intended to be widely and instantaneously accessible was impermissible broadcasting.  Our thanks to the ABA Journal Mobile for the scoop.

Contrast the foregoing with a Kansas federal court judge or a more recent Colorado state court judge.

We note, at least locally, Palm Beach Post reporter, Susan Spencer-Wendel, covers trials via Twitter.