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Judge rebukes ESPN poker pundit for tweeting during trial

February 1, 2012 | 12:01 pm

Norman Chad's tweets

Calling it a mockery of the justice system, a judge on Wednesday rebuked nationally syndicated columnist and sports personality Norman Chad for repeatedly tweeting during a burglary trial.

Chad, "Couch Slouch" columnist and long-time commentator on ESPN telecasts of the "World Series of Poker," apologized through his attorney to Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Laura Foland Priver during a contempt of court hearing.

Known for his wit, humor and sarcasm, Chad -- also known as Juror #7 -- displayed a poker face before Priver, who scolded the scribe for ignoring the court's warning not to discuss the case or use any cellphone or electronic device to email, surf the Internet or tweet.

A look at his Twitter account, @NormanChad, shows that he tweeted a couple dozen times, even before he was called to the courtroom from the jury waiting room.

"No tweeting allowed in courtroom, so I'll be sending messages-in-a-bottle via the Los Angeles River," he tweeted to his more than 18,000 followers.

He later joked: "I was selected for the jury. I asked the judge if we could go straight to jury deliberations but was denied, plus gagged and bounded."

But the judge wasn't laughing.

"He made a mockery of our system," Priver said to Chad's attorney. "I'm disturbed by this behavior. Once the information is out there, it's out there forever. The public who sees these tweets is going to think this behavior is OK."

The hearing stemmed from a residential burglary case that began with jury selection Jan. 11. During a Jan. 12 lunch break, court services personnel approached the judge and told her they learned that Chad had been tweeting.

In front of Priver, the defense and prosecution, Chad said he had not communicated with fellow jurors. He was dismissed from the case but ordered back to return for Wednesday's contempt hearing.

Communicating during a case is a misdemeanor under California law, Priver said, however she let him off with a warning. It was not clear whether the city attorney would pursue the case.

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-- Andrew Blankstein

twitter.com/anblanx

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