Juror’s tweets become grounds to overturn death sentence

In 2010, Erickson Dimas-Martinez became a death row convict after he was found guilty of robbing and shooting a teen. Now, his sentence has been overturned because the Arkansas Supreme Court judges decided it was inappropriate for juror Randy Franco to have posted some of his thoughts about the case on Twitter while the case was ongoing. This, along with teachers getting fired for posting controversial Facebook status messages, is a perfect example of the impact of social media in today's society.

Franco didn't really post specifics about the case aside from talking about its ending: "I'm waiting for the other 11 to [jurors] to help me come to a conclusion...I have not seen death in my life, like, firsthand. So the talk of death is a little uncomfortable just because it's an unknown — it's an unknown area for me." Other than that, he merely commented on the poor quality of coffee in court and quoted an obscure ditty. Unfortunately for him, the judge explicitly stated before the proceedings began that they can't talk about the case on Twitter at all. Due to this event, the judges are consulting a panel that will discuss whether jurors' use of mobile phones should be limited during the course of a trial, as they can be used to access Facebook and Twitter as well as news sites that may have information about the case.

Janice Vaughn, Dimas-Martinez's lawyer, asserts that the complaint filed against Franco isn't about one's right to post on social networks. She says, "It's about protecting the right of the person who may end up behind bars or end up losing a significant amount of money in a civil case." With his sentence revoked, Dimas-Martinez may be slated for a retrial, though it depends on the state's decision.

[via BBC, AP]

This article was written by Mariella Moon and originally appeared on Tecca

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