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Do St. Louis Prosecutor's Strong Twitter and Facebook Posts Cross the Line?

December 2, 2012 11:27:43 am

St. Louis's chief prosecutor, Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce, has developed a loud and unabashed presence on social media, says the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. With daily, sometimes rapid-fire online messages, Joyce began announcing charges and sentences. She expanded from Twitter to Facebook, telling the stories of crime victims and neighborhood action. She eschewed traditional news releases in favor of teasers linked to court documents on her website. She rallied citizens and threatened criminals.

At last check, Joyce had tweeted 2,557 times to 1,628 followers, and 917 people had subscribed to her office’s Facebook page. She’s hardly the first elected official to follow the lure. Even in the age of online everything, it is less common to see a prosecutor so prolific on these sites, and mixing personal with professional. While Joyce has been praised for engaging the community, her musings — particularly the tone of them — have raised eyebrows in the buttoned-down legal community, where lawyers’ comments are bound by strict limits to protect the rights of the accused. Twice this year, Joyce’s courtroom opponents have complained to judges in formal motions that she crossed the line. She insists otherwise.

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