Facebook failed to send a lawyer to Sacramento Superior Court in answer to a subpoena yesterday — leading Judge Michael P. Kenny to “issue an order that Facebook show cause why it shouldn’t be held in contempt of court.” The next hearing in the case, on January 7, will probably result in a contempt charge if a legal representative for Facebook doesn’t show.
The case is a trial of five alleged members of the Killa Mobb gang on charges relating to the beating of a man in the Sacramento area on Halloween, 2008. According to a story in the Sacramento Bee:
At their trial, a juror posted several updates on his Facebook page, saying he was on jury duty. Arturo Ramirez wondered in one post, “can it get any more BORING (than) going over piles and piles of (cell) phone records … uuggggghhhhhh.”
Ramirez’s Facebook friends responded with posts of their own.
Wise and other lawyers seeking to overturn the convictions want to view all of Ramirez’s posting traffic during the trial to determine if he was biased or influenced by his friends.
Friday was supposed to be a hearing on the order to show cause – if Facebook refused to turn over the records. The five Killa Mobb members, attired in jailhouse orange, sat at the defense table with their lawyers when the judge asked, “Is there anyone from Facebook present?”
Kenny then said that he had received no communication from the company and that Facebook had failed to comply with the subpoena request. It would then be his intention, Kenny said, to issue the order to show cause on why Facebook shouldn’t be held in contempt of court “for failure to follow proper process.”
This is far from the first case where jurors’ Facebook activity has caused a problem in a trial. Two high-profile cases in Maryland last year stemmed from jurors friending each other on Facebook and, interestingly, doing Wikipedia research.