Malcolm Harris, the Occupy Wall Street protester who waged a lengthy legal battle over his tweets being subpoenaed, and one of hundreds arrested during a mass march across the Brooklyn Bring in 2011, seems to have lost patience, and wants to end the fiasco by pleading guilty. The maximum penalty for pleading guilty to disorderly conduct is 15 days in jail, though it is rare for first-time offenders to be imprisoned.
This might be a sound move on part of Malcolm, as his attorney Martin Stolar believes that by pleading guilty, Harris may be able to ensure that his tweets remain out of reach of the trial court, and become publicly available as evidence. According to Harris’s attorney, he is concerned that exposing his tweets can implicate several other Occupy defendants.
On Wednesday, Harris’s lawyer, Martin Stolar said that Harris would plead guilty on Friday, and that “This is a way to preserve his right to appeal (the Twitter issue), which is more significant than going to trial on disorderly conduct.”
Both Harris and Twitter has challenged the subpoenas for Harris’s tweets, but Criminal Court Judge Matthew Sciarrino had rejected their arguments earlier this year in separate rulings. Sciarinno holds that Twitter is owner of the content, while Twitter maintains that user generated content is property of the user and not of the company.
The ACLU and several other privacy advocates have filed amici in support of Twitter’s appeal, as Sciarrino’s opinion can set a precedent if allowed to stand, and would compel social media companies to bear the burden of getting involved in criminal prosecution against their users.
The case is People v. Harris, Criminal Court of the City of New York, No. 2011NY080152.