Twitter handed over to a state judge on Friday a sealed envelope containing months of subpoenaed tweets and other records from an Occupy Wall Street protester in a closely watched privacy case -- but the judge promised to not open it for a week.
Manhattan Criminal Court Judge Matthew Sciarrino said he would wait until protester Malcolm Harris, charged with disorderly conduct in a march over the Brooklyn Bridge, has a chance on Sept. 21 to present arguments to a state Supreme Court judge that turning over the documents to prosecutors should be stayed.
"This issue is more important than the trial itself," said Sciarrino, who ruled previously that only Twitter had standing to oppose release of the records, and that the Manhattan district attorney's request for records stretching over a 4-month period before and after the Oct. 1, 2011, march was proper.
A lawyer for Twitter, which fought turning over the records for months before giving in Friday, said the company would continue to argue for Harris' right to privacy in an appellate case set for November.
Martin Stolar, Harris' lawyer, who sued in state Supreme Court to try to block Sciarrino's order, said his client "appreciated" Twitter's fight but was "disappointed" that the company had given up the records. Stolar praised the judge's decision to hold off until a hearing in Harris' lawsuit. "The issue is whether somebody whose account is subpoenaed has a right to challenge it," he said. "That is a crucial, crucial issue."
Harris was one of hundreds of protesters held in the march, and faces a maximum of 15 days in jail or a fine. He says police led protesters to believe it was OK to march across the bridge. Prosecutors believe the tweets may contradict that defense.