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Cheshire Appeal Will Point To Twitter

Publication Date: 
December 01, 2010
Source: 
The New York Times
Author: 
William Glaberson

There were half a dozen of them typing away in the courtroom rows. Minute by minute, they sent out reports of gruesome testimony via Twitter. In the end, the defense says, there were more than 140,000 Twitter messages about the trial that dealt with rape and children tied to their beds in a house that was set ablaze.

On Thursday, the widely followed trial of Steven J. Hayes, who was convicted of killing three members of a Cheshire, Conn., family, is set to come to an official end with the judge’s imposition of the death sentence voted for by the jury. But lawyers for Mr. Hayes have already made court filings that sketch out appeals arguments that are likely to occupy the courts for years.

...

“There is a general reason for concern about the impact of the new media” in high-profile trials, said John J. Donohue III, a Stanford Law School professor who studied the Connecticut death penalty and wrote a report that said it was arbitrarily enforced.

Professor Donohue said some appeals judges might be intrigued by the idea that limiting instant communication from courtrooms might make trials fairer.