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Verdict Stands Despite Prosecutor’s Tweets

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An appellate court in Missouri v. Polk has upheld the conviction of a child rapist despite the fact that the prosecutor handling the case was tweeting during the trial.  Here is a sample of his tweets.

David Polk trial next week. DNA hit linked him to 1992 rape of 11 yr old girl. 20 yrs later, victim now same age as prosecutor. (Tweeted days before jury selection.)

 Watching closing arguments in David Polk ‘cold case’ trial. He’s charged with raping 11 yr old girl 20 years ago.

I have respect for attys who defend child rapists. Our system of justice demands it, but I couldn’t do it. No way, no how. (Tweeted during trial.)

Jury now has David Polk case. I hope the victim gets justice, even though 20 years late.

Finally, justice. David Polk guilty of the 1992 rape of 11 yr old girl. DNA cold case. Brave victim now the same age as prosecutor. (Tweeted after the verdict.)

Aside from DNA, David Polk’s victim could identify him 20 years later. Couldn’t forget the face of the man who terrorized her. (Tweeted after the verdict.)

While the appellate court was bothered by the tweets it still upheld the guilty verdict.  According to the court,

Polk [the defendant] has presented no evidence that the jury was aware of or influenced by Joyce’s Twitter comments. During voir dire, none of the potential jurors responded that he or she followed the prosecutor’s social media postings. Additionally, the trial court instructed the jury not to conduct any independent research, and to refrain from using social media such as Twitter or Facebook. Though we do foresee how comments like Joyce’s could taint a jury, we cannot conclude that the jury in this case was substantially swayed based on the mere potential for prejudice. Accordingly, even if the prosecutor’s public Twitter comments were improper, the trial court did not abuse its discretion in denying Polk’s motions to dismiss and to strike the jury panel.

The prosecutor in this case has subsequently stopped tweeting about her trials. 

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