At least temporarily, California Supreme Court Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye blocked a Sacramento judge Monday from forcing a juror to turn over his Facebook postings from a recent gang beating trial.
The chief justice issued the one-paragraph stay order until the full court takes up the issue on its merits.
Sacramento Superior Court Judge Michael P. Kenny had ordered "Juror No. 1" from last year's Killa Mobb trial to allow Facebook to turn over the postings to the court.
The juror, Arturo Ramirez, had posted during the trial that he was on the jury and that on at least on one occasion he found the proceedings "boring."
The postings violated the routine judicial admonition that jurors not discuss ongoing cases.
California's 3rd District Court of Appeal last week upheld Kenny's order.
The juror's attorney, Kenneth L. Rosenfeld, said he was "thrilled" by Cantil-Sakauye's decision. "This decision will protect the rights of everybody who uses social media from having their privacy invaded," Rosenfeld said.
Defense lawyers in the Killa Mobb case are asking for a new trial based on the disclosure of the juror's alleged misconduct.
They asked to review the juror's postings to see if he was biased during the trial or if any of the responses from his friends to what he had written may have influenced his decision-making during the trial.
Five reputed members of the gang who were convicted in the beating of a man in a gas station are awaiting sentencing.
Mike Wise, attorney for one of the defendants, called the stay order "procedural" and predicted "a quick turnaround" by the full Supreme Court.
Facebook had said that federal computer privacy law precluded it from turning over the postings on its own and that the company needed either a search warrant, a court order or the consent of the user before it would make them available to the court.
(Contact Andy Furillo at afurillo(at)sacbee.com.)
(Distributed by Scripps Howard News Service, www.scrippsnews.com.)