E-Mail from John Royal of the National Lawyers Guild - Detroit Branch.
New York Criminal Judge who ruled that Twitter messages are public messages, and Twitter is required to turn them over to prosecutors upon request. The case arises from
a subpoena for an Occupy Wall Street activist who was arrested for Disorderly Conduct while crossing the Brooklyn Bridge during a protest last October. See NYTimes article below. John
A criminal court judge in Manhattan has ruled that Twitter must relinquish to prosecutors messages that were sent out by a Brooklyn writer during the Occupy Wall Street protests.
The writer, Malcolm Harris, was one of about 700 protesters arrested in
while walking on the roadway of the Brooklyn Bridge. He was charged with disorderly conduct, a violation. In January, the Manhattan district attorney’s office subpoenaed all
messages that he posted to Twitter, from two days before the Occupy Wall Street protests began in September through the end of 2011.
Mr. Harris’s lawyer, Martin R. Stolar, filed a motion to quash the subpoena, saying it had not been delivered properly, was overly broad and was issued for an improper purpose.
Judge Matthew A. Sciarrino Jr. dismissed the motion in
, writing that Mr. Harris lacked the standing to oppose the subpoena because under Twitter’s policies, he had granted the company the “worldwide, nonexclusive royalty-free” right to
distribute his messages, which were all publicly available.
Twitter itself then sought to squash the subpoena. But on Monday, Judge Sciarrino ordered Twitter to turn over Mr. Harris’s messages. While noting that laws regarding social media are evolving,
he held that public speech, regardless of the forum, does not enjoy the protections of private speech.
“The Constitution gives you the right to post, but as numerous people have learned, there are still consequences for your public posts,” Judge Sciarrino wrote. “What you give to the public
belongs to the public. What you keep to yourself belongs only to you.”