CHICAGO — Getting news from a big trial once took days. Now comes Twitter, breaking up courtroom journalism into bite-size reports that take shape as fast as a reporter can tap 140 characters into a smartphone.
But the micro-blogging site is increasingly putting reporters on a collision course with judges who fear it could threaten a defendant’s right to a fair trial. The tension was highlighted recently by a Chicago court’s decision to ban anyone from tweeting or using other social media at an upcoming trial of a man accused of killing Oscar-winner Jennifer Hudson’s family.
The judge in the Illinois case fears that feverish tweeting on smartphones could distract jurors and witnesses when testimony begins April 23.
“Tweeting takes away from the dignity of a courtroom,” said Irv Miller, media liaison for Cook County Judge Charles Burns. “The judge doesn’t want the trial to turn into a circus.”