Appeals Court Tackles Touch Social Media Questions

by Howard W. Hewitt

February 24, 2011

Three judges of the Indiana Court of Appeals made their annual visit Thursday to Wabash College to hear an oral argument in a real case and answer student questions.

A post question-answer period was dominated largely by the emergence of social media and its admission in courts. The justices took turns making the point that it is a new field. Robb, Indiana's first female chief judge in the court's 100 year history, explained that a contributing factor is a person's expectations of privacy. (In photo, right)

She said a student with a cell phone, Facebook page, and Twitter account might have a different expectation of privacy than someone any of the judges' ages - who may or might not have similar social media tools.

The three judges also took the time to talk about court procedures and their daily work week. Of course, they would not comment on the oral argument which preceded the questions.

They heard a brief oral argument concerning evidence in a murder case. The case was the object of a television story taped by a private production company for the Discovery Channel. The defense requested and received some footage during the court trial but not all. That was the issue being appealed.

The state was represented by J.T. Whitehead '87. The Wabash graduate has worked in the Indiana Attorney General's Office since 1998. He graduated from Wabash with degrees in English and Philosophy. He earned a Masters in Philosophy from Purdue in 1993 He attained his law degree from Indiana University magna Cum Laude in 1997.

Nearly 20 Wabash men attending the hearing. The annual court hearing draws largely pre-law and Rhetoric students.


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