Ky. juvenile court case shows how social media has huge impact on justice system


by WHAS11

Posted on September 15, 2012 at 10:48 PM

Updated Monday, Sep 17 at 9:17 AM

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) -- Social media is not only changing how we communicate with each other it's also having a big impact on the judicial system.

On Friday two Louisville boys accepted a tougher plea deal after their victim, Savannah Dietrich, posted their names on Twitter.

She was upset with the original plea deal claiming it wasn't harsh enough. Her tweet made the private juvenile court case public and it grabbed national headlines.

Social media has become a fixture in today's society.

Our comments, ideas and thoughts can be shared to the world with a click of a button. The court system is a having hard time keeping up with an ever evolving digital universe according to social media expert Jason Falls. 

“So the problem is, social media is so young, the court systems haven't caught up to it yet. The court systems are behind,” Falls said.

The recent case involving 17-year-old Savannah Dietrich has raised awareness about social media issues. Dietrich went against a court order to keep the details of the case private by posting the names of her juvenile sexual abuser's on Twitter.

“This will send out a message to other people. To stand up and report their crime,” Savannah Dietrich said.

“What we're seeing now are the early court cases involving communications via social media channels,” Falls said. 

Fifteen-year-old Katie Hudgens knows how powerful social media can be, especially for teens her age.

 “I feel like it creates a lot of drama with kids within school because someone will post something about another person and it just creates a lot of drama,” Hudgens, a social media user, said.

It's drama on the World Wide Web that the court system will have to review more closely.

One of the boy's attorneys did file a motion to hold Savannah Dietrich in contempt of court but it was later dropped.

On Friday a judge sentenced the two teenage boys to community service and sex offender treatment classes. If they stay out of trouble until they are 21-years-old the boys will then have the chance to have the charges reduced from felonies to misdemeanors.