Tag Archives: definitions

Social Media in the NCSC Newsletter

Connected, the newsletter of the National Center for State Courts, lastest issue has articles relating to Social Media in the court. Always a topic of interest, we have shared the articles below.


State Court PIO Attacked over Social Media Usage

The Denver Post reported on March 21, 2014 that defense attorneys for Aurora theatre shooter, James Holmes, filed a motion to compel with the court. The motion alleges that Rob McCallum, the public information officer for the Colorado judicial branch, violated or will violate the trial judge’s prior gag order in the case and “undermined Mr. Holmes’ right to a fair trial by an impartial jury” with the case related postings on his Twitter page. The 18-page motion is available online and includes numerous screen shots of the postings in question.

It also cites the gag order which precludes court personnel from disclosing information about the case that is not already public. Mr. McCallum allegedly violated this order by engaging in a series of “jovial tweets” with a prosecutor. Additionally, the motion states, Mr. McCallum “provides information and communicates his personal opinion about other high profile cases using his Twitter account.” He also allegedly has promoted law enforcement agencies via Twitter. This newspaper article and the motion graphically portray complex issues in the social media age about how to balance First Amendment rights with the defendant’s rights so their cases are decided by fair and impartial juries.


Admissibility of Social Media Postings into Evidence

The Supreme Court of Delaware issued an opinion in Tiffany Parker v. State in February of 2014. Ms. Parker was convicted by a jury of “second degree assault.” She alleged on appeal that the trial court erred by admitting statements into evidence from her Facebook page. The defendant argued that Delaware should follow the Maryland approach. Under Maryland caselaw, social media evidence may only be authenticated through the “testimony of the creator, documentation of the internet history or hard drive of the purported creator’s computer, or information obtained directly from the social networking site.” The state argued that the court should follow the Texas approach to the admission of social media evidence. Under the Texas approach, the proponent of social media evidence must only prove to the trial judge that a “jury could reasonably find that the proffered evidence was authentic.”

The Supreme Court of Delaware adopted the approach in Texas used to authenticate and admit social media evidence. In doing so, they indicated that the mechanisms that were currently in place in the Delaware Rules of Evidence were sufficient to ensure that social media postings offered as evidence have not been falsified. This is an interesting case because it describes very clearly two very different approaches for resolving this issue.


Judges’ Use of Social Media

John G. Browning, a Dallas, Texas attorney published an article in the current issue of the Miami Law Review titled, “Why Can’t We Be Friends? Judges’ Use of Social Media.” One of the introductory paragraphs describes the article:

This article examines both the positive aspects of judges participating in social media as well as the ethical pitfalls. It will look at not only individual instances of judges’ misconduct in their use of social media, but also the varying treatment seen in the ethics opinions and judicial rulings from around the country that have addressed the issue. These decisions reveal that attitudes toward judges being active on social media vary among the states that have dealt with this issue. These decisions, and the attitudes they reflect, shed light on how we view judges and their role in society. Are judges to be viewed as isolated from society? Are they to be viewed as philosopher-priests toiling away in our jurisprudential temples? Should they be regarded as fully connected to society and all of its foibles, with their work reflecting accessibility to the citizens they serve?


Survey of 583 Actual Jurors on Social Media

U.S. District Judge Amy St. Eve (N.D. Ill), Judge Charles P. Burns of the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois and Michael A. Zuckerman, Esq. published a law review article in the Duke Law and Technology Review titled, “More From the #Jury Box: The Latest on Juries and Social Media,” 12 Duke Law & Technology Review 64-91 (2014). The authors surveyed 583 actual jurors in both federal and state courts to explore their attitudes towards social media. The survey and the law review article are very unique. They give readers insights into this issue as well as providing support for the view that a well written jury instruction may be th e best counter measure to manage this problem.


Click here to view the original posting.


ssc – jm


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All about limited jurisdiction courts.

This article about Arizona courts was originally published in the White Mountain Independent Online Edition newspaper.


All about limited jurisidiction courts.

Posted: Monday, August 5, 2013 5:00 am

By Donna J. Grimsley – Special to the Independent

Our court system is the greatest system in the world. It is helpful to understand the various levels and types of courts. As an overview, the Arizona Courts are comprised of 1) limited jurisdiction courts, also known as justice of the peace and municipal courts; 2) Superior Court, the trial court; and 3) Appellate Courts, consisting of the Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court.

This article will focus on the limited jurisdiction courts.

Many incorporated cities or towns have a municipal court, also known as city court or magistrate court. Municipal courts have criminal jurisdiction over misdemeanor crimes and petty offenses committed in their city or town. They share jurisdiction with justice courts over violations of state law committed within their city or town limits.

Municipal court judges hear misdemeanor criminal traffic cases, such as driving under the influence of alcohol, hit-and-run and reckless driving where no serious injuries occur. They hear civil traffic cases, violations of city ordinances and codes, and issue orders of protection and injunctions prohibiting harassment. They can also issue search warrants.

City charters or ordinances establish the qualifications of these judges. Some cities do not require municipal court judges to be attorneys. City or town councils appoint their judges. Judges serve terms set by the city or town council; their terms must be at least two years.

With justice of the peace courts, each county’s board of supervisors sets the geographical boundaries, known as precincts, of that county’s justice of the peace courts. Generally, these precincts are larger than city or town limits and typically incorporate an entire city or town and pieces of other communities as well.

Justice of the peace courts hear traffic cases and certain criminal and civil cases, including domestic violence and harassment cases. They can issue search warrants. Their civil jurisdiction is limited to cases involving claims less than $10,000.

Justice of the peace courts conduct preliminary hearings on felonies and determine if the charges should be dismissed for lack of probable cause to believe the defendant is guilty, or find probable cause exists and transfer the case to the superior court.

Justice courts have criminal jurisdiction over petty offenses and misdemeanors; assault or battery; less serious offenses such as breaches of peace and committing a willful injury to property; and criminal offenses punishable by fines not more than $2,500, or imprisonment in county jail for not more than six months, or both fine and imprisonment; and felonies for the purpose of issuing warrants and conducting preliminary hearings.

Most justice of the peace precincts have an elected constable. The constable’s duties are to execute, serve and return all processes and legal documents as directed by the court.

A justice of the peace is elected to a four-year term; must be at least 18 years old; must be an Arizona resident; must be a qualified voter in the precinct in which the duties of office will be performed; must read and write English; and need not be an attorney.

Donna J. Grimsley is a judge in Apache County Superior Court.

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FAQ: What about my Arizona criminal record?

If you have a criminal record in Arizona you may be wondering “what can I do about it?”

This blog post aims to provide the laws surrounding this topic.

If you don’t already know, Arizona does not seal or expunge a criminal record.

The following Arizona Revised Statutes (ARS) authorize the court to restore civil rights and set aside a judgment of conviction. Arizona Court Rules of Criminal Procedure Rule 29 implements the ARS Title 13 of the Arizona Administrative Code tells Arizona agencies how to administer the ARS.

 Note that the statutes do not authorize the court to seal or expunge a criminal record,  only to set aside the conviction. Criminal records remain public record.

 Arizona Revised Statutes 13-905 to 13-912.01

Double click on the statute number below.

13-904 Suspension of civil rights and occupational disabilities
13-905 Restoration of civil rights; persons completing probation
13-906 Applications by persons discharged from prison
13-907 Setting aside judgment of convicted person on discharge; application; release from disabilities; exceptions
13-908 Restoration of civil rights in the discretion of the superior court judge
13-909 Restoration of civil rights; persons completing probation for federal offense
13-910 Applications by persons discharged from federal prison
13-911 Restoration of civil rights in the discretion of the presiding judge of the superior court
13-912 Restoration of civil rights for first offenders; exception
13-912.01 Restoration of civil rights; persons adjudicated delinquent


Arizona Rules of Criminal Procedure, Rule 29.

 Restoration of Civil Rights or Vacation of Conviction (Set Aside)

Go to the Arizona Court Rules website and then click on Rules of Criminal Procedure.

Look for the rules listed below.

Rule 29.1. Notice to probationers

Rule 29.2. Application: contents; place of filing and service

Rule 29.3. Hearing date

Rule 29.4. Response by the prosecutor

Rule 29.5. Disposition


Arizona Administrative Code





FORMS – Maricopa County Superior Court forms to “Restore Civil Rights (including gun rights) and/or Set Aside a Conviction” can be found at the Clerk of Courts Criminal Forms webpage and forms to Reduce a Class 6 Undesignated Felony to a Misdemeanor can be found at the Superior Court’s  Self Service Center Criminal Forms webpage.

The criminal conviction information needed to complete the court forms can be obtained from the Clerk of Court and the Law Library ICIS computers. Some information needed may be found at the Case/Docket Information page at the Superior Court.

For more information about what a Set Aside and Restoration of Rights is read info at AZLawHelp.org  Setting Aside Convictions and Restoring Civil Rights

The Maricopa County Juvenile Probation office conducts workshops on how to fill out the “Restoration of Rights and Set Aside” forms every few months. You can call the Law Library to find out if there is one scheduled soon. Law Library 602-506-3461.

Record Reviews: Individuals wishing to review their Arizona criminal record must complete a Record Review Packet.

Public Access to Court Information – case look up for many counties in Arizona.

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