Sacto 9-1-1
February 24, 2012
Appellate court schedules arguments over juror's Facebook posts

Nearly a year after it was ordered to revisit the matter, the California 3rd District Court of Appeal has scheduled oral arguments for next month on whether a juror has to turn over to a Sacramento court the Facebook postings he wrote about a case during the trial.

Presiding Judge Vance W. Raye Thursday issued the notice to the lawyers in the case, directing them to appear at the arguments he scheduled for March 23 in Sacramento.

The lawyer who appealed a Sacramento trial court judge's order that the juror permit Facebook to make his postings available for a private review said the scheduling of the arguments by the appellate panel "shows they are taking this extraordinarily seriously."

"It wasn't unexpected," attorney Ken Rosenfeld said. "The significance of this case is going to impact more than 500 million people and their privacy rights."

The 3rd district court initially refused to take up the case, but the California Supreme Court last March kicked it back down and told them to revisit the matter.

Attorneys have since filed legal briefs on the issue. Rosenfeld said the appellate court's notice of the arguments "is the first we've heard from them in many months in regards to this case. I'm glad to know it's still on their front burner."

Defense lawyers in the case of five men accused in a 2008 gang beating in Sacramento asked for the postings when they learned that the juror had been informing his Facebook friends about his thoughts concerning the trial while it was in progress.

Judge MIchael P. Kenny issued the order for the juror to make the postings available for a court review to see if there was any bias in the panelist's decision.

As a result of the Facebook dispute, the five gang members convicted in the case in June 2010 still haven't been sentenced. Kenny last week scheduled their next appearance in front of him for Aug. 24, in the hope that the issue will be resolved in the higher courts by then.

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