Un-Social Media

It’s been years now since Philadelphia judges have been warning spectators to turn off their cell phones in the courtroom and not use them to try to surreptitiously photograph or text people about witnesses who are testifying.

Witness intimidation is a fact of life in a city where “don’t snitch” is part of the code of the streets and those who testify often face more than a cold shoulder from friends.

Now, some judges are trying to extend their reach beyond the courtroom, to the Internet and beyond.

“There is a protective order in this case,” announced Philadelphia Municipal Court Judge Charles Hayden. “To everyone hearing my voice: this case will be resolved in the courts.”

Hayden repeated the warning and then added, “It would be a very bad mistake. The courts take very seriously intimidation of a witness. Anyone sending out messages on Facebook, or Twitter, that can be construed as intimidation of a witness, the likelihood of bail will be very slim.”

The proceeding in question Thursday was a preliminary hearing for Dimetrius Patterson, 23, the last of seven people charged in the June 18, 2011 strafing of a northbound Route 47 SEPTA bus as it stopped on Seventh Street at Cecil B. Moore Avenue… Read more

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