Motion for New Trial Based on Juror’s Twittering

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I have ranted enough about the soul-crushing lump of Satan's dung that some call the "BlackBerry," so let me move on now to demon-spawned Twitter, which appears to be the latest method of shattering humanity's collective ability to concentrate and/or use language in strings of more than 140 characters at a time.

What's that?  No, my iPhone is entirely different, for reasons I will think up shortly.  With it one does the Lord's work.  If Jesus comes back anytime soon, it will be to get an iPhone.

The Associated Press reports today (March 13) that the defendants in an Arkansas case have filed a motion for new trial, arguing in part that one of the jurors sent several messages from his phone to his Twitter page during the trial, and possibly even during deliberations, and that the messages showed he was biased against them.

The only messages quoted by the AP do not directly show bias against the defendant, Stoam Holdings, or its owner.  But they do show that the juror was trumpeting the fact that he had just helped reach a $12 million verdict.  "I just gave away TWELVE MILLION DOLLARS of somebody else's money," Jonathan Powell wrote on his "Juror Jonathan" page.  "[O]h and nobody buy [stock in] Stoam.  Its [sic] bad mojo and they'll [sic] probably cease to Exist [sic], now that their [sic] wallet is 12m lighter."  Defendants argue that these messages show Powell was "predisposed toward giving a verdict that would impress his audience" on Twitter.

Defendants are "just grasping at straws," Powell said, in full English words that he sent from his mouth to a reporter's ears.  "I didn't really do anything wrong," he said, as if he were the judge rather than the manager of a Wal-Mart photo lab, "so it's kind of crazy that they're trying to use this to get the case thrown out."  But, he continued, "I understand where they're coming from — they lost over $12 million."  So, it's the kind of crazy you can understand.

The plaintiffs' attorney said he doubted a new trial would be granted, since the problem is usually with information going into a jury room and influencing a verdict, not with information coming out.  And since the messages don't seem to show a preexisting bias, as opposed to one based on the evidence, he is probably right that the verdict will stand.  As to whether Powell did anything wrong by releasing information on jury deliberations prior to a verdict, that remains to be seen – especially if somebody who happened to be monitoring Juror Jonathan's Twitter page sold any of the defendant's stock before the verdict was public.  That would be bad mojo.

With power, Juror Jonathan, especially the power to give away TWELVE MILLION DOLLARS of somebody else's money, comes great responsibility.  Maybe legal responsibility.

Link: AP via SF