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Judge Immediately Sentences Man to 6 Months Jail for Live Streaming Trial to Facebook

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A Florida man was caught using his cell phone to stream footage of an attempted murder trial live from the courtroom to Facebook, and was found to be in contempt of court. Judge William E. Davis of Alachua County circuit court gave Jonathan Clyde Davis a chance to explain himself, but after he reportedly lied about what he was doing, the judge sentenced Davis to five months and 29 days in jail, The Gainesville Sun reported.

Officers went over to Davis, who was seated in the audience while the trial was underway, and confiscated his phone. The judge stopped the trial, asked him what he was doing, and Davis claimed he was only recording audio, which he planned on using in a music recording he was going to make. Upon further inspection, however, the judge learned that Davis was recording video and streaming it online. Multiple videos were found on the “Hittmann Souljah” Facebook page, with at least one containing witness testimony.

The judge wrote in an order that court rules prohibit “recording and broadcasting of court proceedings without the prior approval of the presiding judge.” On top of that, however, the case itself was particularly sensitive. State Attorney Bill Cervone told the Sun that a number of witnesses had been reluctant to take the stand at the trial, and that there were “a lot of people who might be prone to that kind of witness intimidation.” The idea being that if witnesses saw that their testimony was being broadcast to social media, they would be afraid to talk.

“The judge was probably attuned to the possibility of that,” Cervone said, explaining that the sentence the judge gave to Davis was the maximum allowable without a person getting the opportunity to have legal representation.

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