Massachusetts Courtroom Makes Room for Social Media

Paul Lilly

If you own a laptop, tablet PC, or smartphone -- and who doesn't these days? -- feel free to bring them with you when you visit the Quincy District Court in Massachusetts. Unlike nearly every other court in the country, not only does this one allow these electronic devices, but it's actually encouraging users to live blog, post to Facebook, and update their Twitter accounts once court is in session.

According to , blending social media with legal proceedings is an experiment designed to help establish appropriate guidelines for courts as they try and figure out how best to incorporate digital technology, bloggers, and citizen journalists.

"In the past, reporters were the connection to the nation's courts, but with the changes in the media landscape, there are just less and less journalists who are that bridge to the public, John Davidow, executive producer of the 'OpenCourt' project," told The Associated Press.

What's interesting to note is that in the past, the use of electronic devices in publicized cases have actually led to mistrials and overturned convictions.

"I'm not overly fond of the idea," Richard Sweeney, a Quincy defense attorney told AP. "I think there are a lot of pitfalls. I understand and respect the concept -- they want to open court. In this era of everyone having cell phones and videos, I can understand that, but it's fraught with perils for attorneys with conversations that can be picked up."

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