The California Supreme Court on Monday granted a stay on a Sacramento trial court order requiring a juror to turn over his Facebook postings made while serving as jury foreperson during a criminal trial.
Arturo Ramirez was the juror foreperson in a criminal case that alleged gang members had beaten a man in 2008. After the trial ended, attorneys for the defendants that were convicted of crimes related to the beating found out that, during the trial, Ramirez had posted on Facebook: "Back to jury duty can it get any more BORING than going over piles and piles of metro pcs phone records . . . uuuuughhhh."
They issued subpoenas to Facebook and Ramirez for the records of the post. The social networking website refused and Ramirez challenged the subpoena. The trial court ordered Ramirez to sign an order giving him until Feb. 14 to sign a consent form that would allow Facebook to hand over the postings.
Ramirez appealed the order last week to the California Court of Appeal, which denied the appeal last Thursday. Ken Rosenfeld, attorney for Ramirez, immediately filed a petition for review with the California Supreme Court. The petition asked the court to "grant review to determine whether a trial court can order a juror to consent to the release of his private communications stored on a social networking site account in violation of the Fourth Amendment where such information may implicate his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination."
On Monday, California Supreme Court’s new Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye granted a stay on the lower court's order, pending the court's resolution of the petition of review. The court has not decided whether to accept the case for review.
Rosenfeld has also filed a civil suit in U.S. District Court in Sacramento, seeking a temporary restraining order and injunctive relief.