Juror’s Tweets Save Dimas-Martinez from Death Sentence…for now

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File:Stenkeys.gifYou know our world is truly ruled by social media when a judge has to instruct jurors not to text or tweet during any trial proceedings. But during the case of Erickson Dimas-Martinez, Juror Number 2 did not listen. Because of the alleged actions of Juror Randy Franco, and the fact another juror had been caught sleeping, Dimas-Martinez death sentence was overturned today by the Arkansas Supreme Court.

In April 2010, a jury decided Dimas-Martinez should be put to death by lethal injection for killing Derrick Jefferson in 2006. Dimas-Martinez purportedly robbed Jefferson of his money at gunpoint and then shot him in the head. The prosecution presented photographic evidence of Dimas-Martinez wearing the victim’s hat.

When Dimas-Martinez’s legal team filed an appeal to overturn the capital punishment sentence, a lower court judge ruled that there was no jury misconduct. The Arkansas Supreme Court disagreed. During Dimas-Martinez murder trial, Franco had reportedly tweeted statements such as, “Choices to be made. Hearts to be broken…We each define the great line,” “the coffee sucks here” and “It’s over” (right before the verdict was read), according to the Associate Press.

Associate Justice Donald Corbin of the Arkansas Supreme Court declared the tweets were inappropriate. “Even if such discussions were one-sided, it is in no way appropriate for a juror to state musings, thoughts, or other information about a case in such a public fashion,” he stated. On the other side of the argument, both the Attorney General and Franco argued the tweets did not reveal any details about the trial itself.

Based on today’s decision, Dimas-Martinez will get a new trial. The ruling also may set the precedent for restricting jurors’ usage of any mobile device while serving in the jury box.

While court reporters do not use Smart Phones or Twitter accounts when they perform their duties, they are required to accurately record all details of legal proceedings. A court recorder job description involves typing all that is said in the court room in short hand using a stenograph machine. After the trial, deposition or other legal proceeding, court reporters must transcribe what they have typed into long hand.

If you are interested in the law, are a focused listener and adapt at typing using technological equipment, then a court reporter career may be just the right fit. Consider enrolling for a court reporting degree or course. Court reporting schools offer either online or on-campus programs.

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