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Twitter this: Will juror tweeting lead to new trial?

Avid tweeter Jonhathan Powell of Fayetteville, Ark., will have his name in the The New York Times tomorrow. How do we know this? From his Twitter feed, of course. That would be the same feed he used last month to tweet about a trial while a member of the jury, which pleased his Twitter fans but prompted the defense attorney in the case to seek a new trial. On what grounds? That Powell's tweets allegedly showed he was biased against defendant Russell Wright (and his company Stoam Holdings, a building materials company in Fayetteville, Ark.), who was found guilty of mismanaging investors' funds, The Morning News reports. The jury awarded investors who sued Stoam $12.6 million.

Powell began tweeting about his experience as a juror February 24 with a post that read, "Well, i finally got called for jury duty. It is kinda exciting." Two days later, he let his Twitter followers know the jury had reached a verdict, tweeting: "So, Johnathan, what did you do today? Oh, nothing really. I just gave away TWELVE MILLION DOLLARS of somebody else's money!" Thirty-four minutes later, Powell wrote, "Oh, and nobody buy Stoam. It's bad mojo, and they'll probably cease to exist, now that their wallet is $12M lighter."

Stoam defense attorney Drew Ledbetter filed the motion for a new trial last week after finding out about the tweets.

In a related incident, a jury today found Democratic state Sen. Vince Fumo of Philadelphia guilty of all 137 counts in his federal corruption trial less than an hour after the judge rejected a motion by the defense to remove juror Eric Wuest, because he posted info about the trial on his Facebook page and Twitter feed, MSNBC reports. Fumo's attorneys in their unsuccessful motion stated that Wuest, "violated this court's admonitions by disclosing the status of deliberations to his 'friends' (and a vast number of strangers)."

In dispute: a status message Wuest posted on Facebook last Friday in which he said: "Stay tuned for a big announcement on Monday everyone!"

Image ©iStockphoto.com/ Frances Twitty

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