Judge: Occupier’s tweets fair game for prosecutors
Criminal Court Judge Matthew Sciarrino Jr., who is overseeing a special courtroom dedicated to handling nearly 2,000 Occupy-related cases, ruled that Malcolm Harris did not have standing to challenge the third-party subpoena. Prosecutors from the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office served the subpoena on Twitter in January, requesting Harris’ user information and more than three months’ worth of tweets.
The judge compared Harris to a bank account holder who by law cannot challenge a subpoena of his records served on his bank.
“Twitter’s license to use the defendant’s Tweets means that the Tweets the defendant posted were not his,” the judge wrote in a decision filed Friday.
Sciarrino’s ruling — which featured a handful of hashtags such as, “That motion is #denied” — could bolster similar subpoenas that prosecutors have served on Twitter seeking records from other Occupy protesters.
Even though Harris lacked standing, Sciarrino said prosecutors had met the “low” legal threshold required to issue a subpoena.
In particular, he said prosecutors had shown that the tweets could have relevance to the case against Harris, by calling into question his “anticipated defense” that police officers led protesters onto the bridge before arresting them in October.
Martin Stolar of the National Lawyers Guild, who is representing Harris and filed the motion to quash, said he was planning to file a motion to reargue.
“I think the judge is incorrect in his understanding of the law,” he said.
The district attorney’s office declined comment Monday, referring to its brief in opposition to the motion.
The case is People v. Harris, Criminal Court of the City of New York, No. 2011NY080152.