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Jodi Arias case: Should jurors turn over their Twitter usernames?

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PHOENIX (KSAZ) -

Social media is playing a big role in a hearing involving Jodi Arias on Tuesday, specifically the Twitter accounts of any potential jurors for the sentencing retrial.

Is this some uncharted territory for the legal system?

Jodi Arias' Twitter feed has been in the news a lot, but here we are talking about the Twitter feeds of people who will be picked for the jury in this sentencing  retrial.

Defense attorneys are asking the judge to force those jurors  to turn over their Twitter usernames.

Why?  So the defense can make sure those jurors are not talking about the case in social media.

Before he became a professor at Arizona Summit Law School in downtown Phoenix, Stephen Gerst spent 21 years as a Maricopa County Superior Court judge.

He says he's never heard of defense attorneys asking for jurors' Twitter names.

Professor Gerst can understand why Arias' attorneys think jurors should turn over their usernames.

"Is your Twitter name a matter of public record?  Anybody who knows it can get it and join whether you want them to or not, so in that respect, why not give it to them?" he said.

But Gerst also says jurors have a limited right to privacy recognized by the Supreme Court and it's the judge's job to protect the jurors' rights.

So what would the former judge tell Arias' attorneys if he had to decide?

"I would probably say if you want it, go get it, but I am not going to issue a court order that a juror must disclose this to you if a juror doesn't want to and claims a legitimate right to privacy," he said.

Another huge question: Can Jodi Arias get a fair jury if there's a retrial?

"I do not think you will be able to get a jury that has never heard of the case," said Gerst.  "But what you have to be able to do is screen those people and find people who have not made up their minds."

On Tuesday, there is a pretrial conference scheduled for the penalty phase retrial.  There's no word yet on whether it will be available to the media.

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