I just read this on my TweetDeck and couldn’t get to my keyboard fast enough. Twitter crackdown in Baltimore Circuit Court -Baltimoresun.com. Social networking is banned from one of our local courthouses. What gave rise to this ‘order’? Answer: former Mayor Dixon’s recent criminal trial and some juror conduct discovered in its aftermath.
Rather than recount the words of the Sun’s writer, let me quote some well put thoughts on this new edict:
- The starting point for any conversation about what restrictions judges may place on courtroom behavior must be that our criminal justice system is predicated on the notion of openness.
- [T]his order extends the scope of the restrictions from the courtroom to the entire courthouse, and at that point, any justification for them ends. It is impossible to imagine a situation in which posting information on Twitter from the hallway outside of a courtroom would be in the least bit disruptive, or that forcing someone to walk outside the courthouse before tweeting would do anything to enhance security.
- The absurdity of the court’s order is underscored by the impossibility of enforcing it. Rather than tweeting from the hallway, a court observer could simply call someone outside and have him or her post the same information on a social networking site. The order doesn’t stop someone from posting information directly onto a blog, or a television or radio reporter from calling the station and providing updates from the hallway live on the air.
While President Obama and his administration are working hard for transparency and openness in the government, the Circuit Court for Baltimore City has taken a step backward in the twenty-first century. Is making ’tweeting’ from the hallway in the courthouse more difficult really going to put a damper on the ever-growing function of social networking? No – it may be a bit more cumbersome, but tweets, blogs and postings will continue to fill the internet airwaves.