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."Burns is allowing reporters to bring cellphones and to send e-mails periodically, a notable concession in a state that has only recently announced it will begin experimenting with cameras in court and where cellphones are often barred from courtrooms altogether.There's also an overflow courtroom where reporters can tweet freely. But there will be no audio or video of proceedings in the room, just live transcripts scrolling across a screen.The issue extends beyond journalists to jurors, whose tweets have raised issues of their own across the country.Last year, the Arkansas Supreme Court threw out a death row inmate's murder conviction after one juror tweeted during proceedings and another slept. Juror Randy Franco's tweets ranged from the philosophical to the mundane. One read, "The coffee sucks here." Less than an hour before the jury returned with a verdict, he tweeted, "It's all over."