It’s a classic case of the law failing to keep up with technology. Arturo Ramirez was the jury foreman of a case involving the 2008 assault by members of the Killa Mobb gang of a man in Arden Fair Mall. There is no question that Ramirez performed his duty, but he found the case rather boring, and mentioned that on his Facebook page, posting, ““Back to jury duty can it get any more BORING than going over piles and piles of metro pcs phone records . . . uuuuughhhh.”
When the defense learned about this, they subpoenaed Facebook for other posts by Ramirez. Facebook refused without the consent of Ramirez, and Ramirez considered it an invasion of his privacy. Then he took it one step further and challenged the subpoena in court.
Things did not go well for him at first. A Sacramento Superior Court Judge ordered him to sign a consent form so that Facebook could hand over the information. He appealed and requested a stay, requesting that the court, “grant review to determine whether a trial court can order a juror to consent to the release of his private communications stored on a social networking site account in violation of the Fourth Amendment where such information may implicate his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.”
The Court of Appeals denied his appeal without comment, so Ramirez’s attorney took the case to the State Supreme Court. While the court has yet to decide whether it will review the case, Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye granted a temporary stay to allow the court to decide.
According to CNET, “the case could end up testing the limits of a defendant’s constitutional right to a fair trial ‘by an impartial jury’ in an environment where Facebook posts and Twitter updates are commonplace.” While they may be ubiquitous, are they acceptable in a courtroom? Florida has banned jurors from communicating via, “electronic communication, such as a blog, Twitter, e-mail, text message, or any other means,” while a Georgia judge has banned even spectators of trials from using Twitter. A similar ruling could be coming to California soon.