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Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce’s Tweets Draw Ire of Judges

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Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce
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ST. LOUIS (KMOX) - On January 30, 1992, an 11-year-old child was raped and sodomized while walking along the 5400 block of Oriole Avenue in St. Louis. The original investigation turned up nothing and the case went cold for 18 years.

In December of 2010, DNA evidence linked David Polk to the crime. The next month, the victim identified Polk in a photo lineup as the man who attacked her 19 years before.

When Polk went to trial last summer, St. Louis Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce, known for her Twitter proficiency, began tweeting details.

“I have respect for [attorneys] who defend child rapists,” Joyce wrote in the first tweet. “Our system of justice demands it, but I couldn’t do it. No way, no how.”

Joyce went on to tweet during several stages in the trial, updating followers on the trial’s progress.

“Jury now has David Polk case. I hope the victim gets justice, even though 20 years late,” she wrote after closing arguments.

“Finally, justice. David Polk guilty of 1992 rape of 11 yr old girl,” Joyce wrote after the jury returned. “DNA cold case. Brave victim now same age as prosecutor.”

Now a panel of judges on the Missouri Court of Appeals Eastern District says they are troubled by the tweets.

The judges are concerned that such statements could taint a jury, harming the defendant’s right to a fair trial.

“One of the things they did say is we realize a lot of what she said was in the public record but basically making extraneous statements could be a problem,” Missouri Lawyers Weekly reporter Heather Cole explains.

Joyce told Cole that she takes her obligation to uphold the right to a fair trial very seriously but also takes very seriously her obligation to inform the public. She says she no longer tweets during trials because she doesn’t want to distract.

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