Facebook Post Leads to Material-Witness Subpoena

Sean O’Sullivan of The News Journal alerted me to a dramatic story that unfolded in a Delaware courtroom yesterday.  A homicide trial was scheduled to begin yesterday in Superior Court but the jury had not been brought into the courtroom when the prosecutor stated that he needed to serve a subpoena on a material witness-who was in the courtroom, seated in the galley behind the defendant.  The prosecutor informed the judge that the witness would likely be hostile, so the State would require him to post a $1,000 bail to ensure his appearance, according to O’Sullivan.

Although this Perry-Mason-like moment is interesting in and of itself, I’m particularly fascinated by the next part of the story.  According to the O’Sullivan’s account of the events from yesterday, the prosecutor told the judge that the State’s interest in the witness was a result of two Facebook posts he’d made in which he referenced the defendant. Apparently, the witness called the defendant by a nickname that eye-witnesses had used to identify the shooter.  Those eyewitnesses did not know the real name of the perpetrator-only the nickname.  The State apparently believes that it may be able to tie the defendant to the crime with the help of those Facebook posts. 

The material witness was led out of the courtroom and the jury brought in. And so it goes, another day, another story of social-media in the courts.

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