On Wednesday, September 21, 2011, Troy Davis was executed in the state of Georgia for the 1989 murder of an off-duty police officer. Similar to the way that the Casey Anthony trial dominated social media coverage, the Troy Davis case consumed our collective attention again, this time at the eleventh-hour, for a case that was 22 years old.
Social media, Twitter in particular, instantly became the de facto platform for sharing and gathering information regarding the trial. People on the ground in both Georgia and D.C. relayed to-the-minute updates for all the world to access.
“#TroyDavis,’ ‘#TooMuchDoubt’, and ‘#PrayforTroyDavis’ were just a few of the hash tags reserved on Twitter for filtering relevant updates. All the nation’s reactions were catalogued online as supporters at first cheered the news of the US Supreme Court’s temporary reprieve, then mourned the outcome of the court’s decision within the very next hour. The public didn’t have to wait until the next day’s 10 o’clock news to discover the Supreme Court’s ruling on Davis’ stay of execution; it was all happening and being reported, live.
All this social fervor shifted the conversation to the state of the U.S. judicial system and particularly the legal system in Georgia. This is where the legal blogging community took over the reigns of immediacy and weighed in on the case, in real-time. Posts were continually amended with ‘updated’ statuses as further information poured in over the course of the trial. Opinions varied as widely as their vocalizers, from legal technology consultants to criminal defense attorneys, and overran the conversation within the online legal community.
And ultimately, what is a better time for attorneys to weigh in on the cultural zeitgeist of our country if not during nationally publicized court trials? Many attorneys did just that — read on for our round up of Troy Davis-themed posts.
“As the national voice of the legal profession, the ABA works to improve the administration of justice, promotes programs that assist lawyers and judges in their work, accredits law schools, provides continuing legal education, and works to build public understanding around the world of the importance of the rule of law.”
“You’ve got the two opposing camps: there’s the camp that opposes executing Troy Davis and there’s the camp that favors it. The latter camp has the unequivocal and unwavering collective support of law enforcement. They have dug in their heels on this one and everyone knows it. The we-don’t-want-Troy-Davis-killed-camp has done a very good job of raising all kinds of doubts about Troy Davis’ guilt. I don’t think anyone disputes that at this point.”
“I mean, Jesus, the things we choose to care about. The state of Georgia MURDERED an unarmed man last night, and we’re debating whether or not they considered all of the relevant evidence? We’re debating the process by which Georgia came to the conclusion it had the right to terminate the life of another man? This is what passes as civilized?”
“The thing I’m most upset by is the way the media have dealt with it,” said Lawton. He said the coverage was one-sided, adding he was in part to blame because of his reticence to speak publicly. But if the media had done their job and looked into the record, he said, he wouldn’t have had to say anything.”
“For me, I was riveted to the Twitter feed, as that seemed to be the best source for live coverage.”