The Occupy Wall Street protester whose tweets were subpoenaed by the Manhattan district attorney pleaded guilty yesterday to a single count of disorderly conduct. The attorney for defendant Malcolm Harris, 23, said Harris is planning to appeal findings in the criminal case, including whether he can challenge subpoenas served on Twitter by the Manhattan D.A.
Harris was one of about 700 people arrested in a march last year over the Brooklyn Bridge. The D.A. sought Harris’ Twitter subscriber information and more than three months of Tweets to counter his anticipated defense that police led him and others onto the road where they were arrested.
Harris appeared before Manhattan Criminal Court Judge Matthew Sciarrino Jr. (See Profile) yesterday, the day his trial was scheduled to start. His attorney, Martin Stolar, told the judge that Harris was ready to plead guilty, and recommended he be sentenced to time served because Harris had been jailed for several hours after his arrest. Alternatively, Stolar asked for a minimal amount of community service with a nonprofit. Assistant District Attorney Lee Langston, who recommended 10 days of community service, said information from Harris’ Tweets conflicted with his defense. “They tried to stop us, absolutely did not want us on the motorway,” said one Tweet, according to prosecutors.
Harris was sentenced to six days of community service. “The sole reason to take this plea was to get up to the appellate court,” Stolar said after Harris’ court appearance. Twitter is appealing Sciarrino’s ruling that Harris lacked standing to challenge subpoenas requesting his account information. In the pending appeal, Twitter says its users own their Tweets and should have the right to challenge law enforcement requests for their information.