National Lawyers Guild Calls Twitter Subpoena Improper

By Chapter Coordinator, February 6, 2012 4:16 pm

Contact: Pat Levasseur pathlevasseur@gmail.com

February 6, 2012, New York City – A National Lawyers Guild attorney today filed a motion to quash a subpoena issued to Twitter for details on the Twitter account of an Occupy Wall Street protester.

Read a copy of the Motion to Quash here.

“Attempting to use the criminal courts as a tool for a broad investigation into the free speech activity of Occupy protesters is improper and an abuse of subpoena power,” said NLG attorney Martin R. Stolar who is representing Malcolm Harris. “This is an unwarranted invasion into a protester’s right to privacy and an infringement on his Constitutional rights.”

The subpoena was issued to Twitter on January 26 by New York District Attorney, Cyrus R. Vance. It demands that Twitter appear in court as a witness in the criminal proceeding against Occupy Wall Street protester, Malcolm Harris and to provide “any and all user information, including email address, as well as any and all tweets posted for the period of 9/15/2011- 12/31/2011” associated with his Twitter account.

Mr. Harris was arrested along with approximately 700 Occupy Wall Street protesters, on the Brooklyn Bridge on October 1, 2011. He is charged with disorderly conduct which is a violation: an infringement of the law that is not at the level of seriousness to be considered a crime. The range of dates listed in the subpoena begins two days before the first day of the Occupy Wall Street protests  – over two weeks before the Brooklyn Bridge events when Mr. Harris was arrested.

“There is simply no justification for seeking such a broad swath of electronic data as part of prosecuting a minor charge related to one event on a discreet date. This is yet another example of the City of New York overstepping the boundaries of the law in order to chill the legitimate political expression of critics of government policies,” said Mr. Stolar.

The National Lawyers Guild is providing legal observers and free criminal defense for people in the Occupy movement. The New York City Chapter has provided attorneys in nearly 2,200 arrests since the Occupy Wall Street movement began on September 17, 2011.

The National Lawyers Guild is a non-profit federation of lawyers, legal workers, law students and jailhouse lawyers. Since 1937, Guild members have been using the law to advance social justice and support progressive social movements to the end that human rights shall be regarded as more sacred than property interests. The Mass Defense Committee (MDC) of the New York City Chapter was created in 1968 to provide legal support to the anti-racist and anti-Vietnam war movements. The MDC trains and dispatches legal observers to protect First Amendment rights of expression by documenting police misconduct and arrests of protestors at political demonstrations and coordinates pro bono Guild lawyers to represent protest arrestees in court. More information is available at nlgnyc.org.

 

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