Target: Judge Matthew A. Sciarrino Jr.
Goal: To refuse to use a protestor’s deleted tweets as evidence in a disorderly conduct trial
This week, Twitter delivered a group of messages posted on its site last year by Malcolm Harris to a Manhattan judge. The messages were subpoenaed by prosecutors who are charging Harris with disorderly conduct, and they hope the tweets that he published on Twitter the day of his arrest will incriminate him by invalidating his testimony. Twitter is appealing the decision to have the messages turned over to the court but has complied in the meantime. Act now and urge the judge in this case to find these messages inadmissible.
The printed messages were delivered to judge Matthew A. Sciarrino Jr., a judge at the Criminal Court in Manhattan, and they will be kept in a sealed envelope in his office until the hearing on September 21st. Harris was arrested on the Brooklyn Bridge last year. He is contending that police forced protesters off of the foot path and into the road so they could then arrest them. Authorities say Harris’ tweets will somehow prove otherwise. If the judge rules these tweets admissible this sets a dangerous precedent in which anything posted on social media sites can and will be used against citizens.
If Harris deleted his messages on Twitter then they are no longer public records, as Judge Sciarrino currently claims. If a person can plead the 5th Amendment and not incriminate themselves then they should be able to have their past social media messages kept private, especially if they have already been deleted. It sounds like a weak case against Harris if the prosecution is so desperate to get his tweets. Don’t allow the government to breach any more privacy boundaries and voice your disapproval of this subpoena.
Dear Judge Sciarrino,
We would like to voice our disapproval of the subpoenaing of Mr. Malcolm Harris’ deleted messages on Twitter. Mr. Harris and every other Twitter user has the right to post messages on the site–at which point they are part of the public record–and also delete those messages, at which point they cease being public records. The government has no right to deleted messages in this or any other case. And if the case against Mr. Harris hinges on these messages being deemed admissible then, honestly, how much of a case can there be against him?
If the 5th Amendment gives citizens the right not to incriminate themselves then surely Twitter users have the right to not have past tweets subjected to court scrutiny when those messages might find them liable in court. We ask you to reject this subpoena and continue to hear this case without the messages in question. To give in now would be to set a dangerous precedent. We ask you to instead reject this demand and as a result protect the individual rights of all our citizens.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit by Suttonhoo via suttonwho.blogspot.com