Magistrate Quits After Twittering Ongoing Cases

A 54-year IT consultant has been forced to resign from his post as a magistrate in Telford, Shropshire, after being criticised for posting case updates on his Twitter account.

A formal complaint was made against Professor Steve Molyneux, a former IT lecturer at Wolverhampton University and an expert in the use of IT, following which he tended his resignation after 16 years as a magistrate.

Molyneux was reported by a fellow colleague to the chairman of the bench after he was caught twittering cases using his iPhone - although he was on his break. In his defence, he said that he was making use of a technology - microblogging service Twitter - that brought more transparency to the judicial system.

He added that "The people who read the Twitter read the same thing in the newspaper that evening" and later told that although he was not careful in his use of words, he argued that he saw not harm to it.

A quick straw poll carried out by Shropshirestar, the newspaper which reported the story, found out that nearly three quarters of its readers said that he did nothing wrong. Others like Fellow twitterer and solicitor Brian Inkster have lambasted the court system decision to discourage the use of technology.

The case reminds us of a slightly similar case where a juror was dismissed after polling her facebook friends; in this case though, it was pretty straight forward that the juror was clearly wrong.

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Our Comments

Whether we like it or not, Social networking websites like Facebook or Twitter are here to stay. Steve Molyneux is clearly a technology geek who didn't think he was doing something wrong when he twittered. But his Twitter could well have brought disrepute and the defense team could have used it as a lever and an argument to free the defendants - criminals involved in a bank robbery.

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