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New Media & the Courts Resources


Hurricane Matthew prompts Florida Supreme Court to tweet about emergency court closings for first time
Craig Waters, Public Information Officer, Florida Supreme Court

Florida’s Supreme Court for the first time used social media as a communications tool when it faced court closures and emergency conditions caused by a major natural disaster, Hurricane Matthew, in October. The court’s Twitter feed and its Facebook page hummed to life targeting members of the state’s legal community and the press with details of court closures that shuttered most of the state’s trial courts and lower appellate courts. Thousands of court customers received the news through a partnership with The Florida Bar, which retweeted and shared posts with local bar associations and more than 100,000 Florida lawyers along with the public and the press. Florida’s use of social media began in 2009 and has expanded to become one of the most comprehensive in the nation. Its importance is underscored by a new statewide communications plan being implemented by Florida court PIOs.

Nevada Supreme Court uses PSAs to try to woo potential jurors

The Nevada Supreme Court created some clever ways to persuade its residents to serve on juries. It runs 30-second public service announcements on local networks, YouTube, and social media. In one of their videos, the state Supreme Court spoofs David Letterman's Top 10 List. Chief District Judge David Barker, alongside Nevada Supreme Court Justice Mark Gibbons, reads a list of "top 10 actual excuses tried to get out of jury duty." The list includes "The dog ate my summons," "I'm a Libra," and "I have to take care of my baby Fi-Fi." Another video, "Extreme Jury Service" targets younger jurors. A man in his 20s is crossing items off his bucket list -- "Everest," "TWA Challenge," and "Jury Duty."  The message of each video is clear -- "Jury service is vital for our community," says Justice Gibbons. "Participate in our jury and justice system."

Ballot selfies officially legal in New Hampshire

New Hampshire voters will be able to take selfies and Snapchat in the voting booth this November. In late September, a federal appeals court overturned a ruling that "a ban against the practice infringed on free speech." In April Snapchat filed an amicus brief in the appeals case, arguing that ballot selfies were the "latest way that voters, especially young voters, engage with the political process."

Young woman sues parents over embarrassing Facebook photos

An 18-year-old Austrian woman is suing her parents for posting hundreds of images of her without her consent. In an interview with the The Local Austria, the young woman said, "They knew no shame and no limit -- and didn't care whether it was a picture of me sitting on the toilet or lying naked in my cot -- every stage was photographed and then made public." The images were shared with her parents' 700 Facebook friends. The woman is seeking financial compensations and wants the images to be removed from the social media network. The case goes to an Austrian court in November. The father told news outlets that he has rights to the photos because he took them.

Student's violent tweets are not a crime

A Florida appeals court ruled late last month that a high school student's statement that he "can't WAIT to shoot up my school" does not constitute a criminal threat. A panel of three judges of the 2nd District Court of Appeal overturned a juvenile-delinquency ruling involving the student who sent the tweet in 2014. The court also "suggested that the Legislature might want to look at updating the state's law against violent threats -- originally approved in 1913 -- to account for growth of social media." The law was updated in 2010 to account for electronic communications, but because the law requires the threat to be sent to the person threatened, "the court ruled that it doesn't always apply to posts on social media."

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