Juror slammed for tweeting during trial

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Juror slammed for tweeting during trial

A US juror posted biased messages on micro-blogging site Twitter before making a US$12.6m verdict and now faces legal action from the company he ruled against.

Building manufacturer firm Stoam Holdings lost a multi-million dollar court case at the beginning of March after two investors sued the company claiming that its owner, Russell Wright, had mismanaged their money.

Overseeing the case taking place in an Arkansas court was juror, Johnathan Powell.

Wright and his lawyer Drew Ledbetter have pointed to Tweets from Powell to demonstrate his prejudice against the firm during the trial.

"Oh, and nobody buy Stoam. It's bad mojo, and they'll probably cease to exist, now that their wallet is $12m lighter," said Powell on Twitter on February 26, also giving Stoam's website address.

"So, Johnathan, what did you do today? Oh, nothing really. I just gave away twelve million dollars of somebody else's money!" said Powell in another Twitter update on the same day.

Ledbetter has argued the messages show Powell "was predisposed toward giving a verdict that would impress his audience," in an appeal filed with the Washington County Circuit Court, as seen by the Associated Press.

However lawyer Greg Brown, who defended investor Mark Deihl in the trial, told the Associated Press that the appeal is unlikely to be granted because Arkansas law only requires that outside information does not make its way into the court room. It is not illegal for court room information to be leaked outside, he is reported to have said.

Powell's Twitter account, under the profile ID Johnathan, is still active, and recent updates show he is distressed by Stoam's latest action.

"My night is ruined. I can't sleep, and will be totally useless at work tomorrow," said Powell on March 12. "Twitter got me into this mess, maybe it can get me out. Do I need a lawyer?" he added later that evening, and included a link to a story in a local Arkansas paper, The Morning News, which outlined his predicament.

"Well, I'm off to see a judge. Hope they don't lock me under the jail, and forget about me for four days," said a more recent update by Powell on March 13.

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