TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas judge declared a mistrial in a murder trial Wednesday after a newspaper reporter tweeted a photo that included the grainy profile of a juror.
The Shawnee County district attorney's office said it plans to reschedule Austin Tabor's trial for June or July after the abrupt halt to proceedings in Topeka one day after attorneys presented opening statements.
"One of the photos apparently showed one or more of the jurors," said Lee McGowan, spokesman for the district attorney's office. "It was brought to the court's attention and ultimately a mistrial was declared."
The Topeka Capital-Journal (http://bit.ly/I5bxRO) reports Tabor, 20, is accused of shooting and killing Matthew Mitchell, 20, near Topeka West High School in 2010.
McGowan said the judge had agreed to allow camera phones in the courtroom, but said no photos were to be taken of jurors. That corresponds with rules established by the Kansas Supreme Court for cameras in courtrooms, including that individual jurors are not to be photographed.
"In courtrooms where photography is impossible without including the jury as part of the unavoidable background, the photography is permitted, but close-ups which identify individual jurors are not permitted," the court has said.
The picture, taken and tweeted by reporter Ann Marie Bush, includes the profile of a juror set against a brightly lit window.
Capital-Journal managing editor Tomari Quinn responded to comments on the newspaper's website by saying the photo was a mistake and the "reporter is miserable about it."
"The juror was seated next to a window and, on the reporter's smartphone, wasn't seen against the incoming light," Quinn wrote.
Publisher Gregg Ireland said the reporter was aware of the rules.
"The Capital-Journal regrets the error and loss of the court's time," he said. "We will use this as a training opportunity for our staff members as they strive to bring information to our readers in digital and print media."
Lawsuit: Cell makers violated Omaha firm's patent
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — An Omaha company is suing five cellphone service companies for allegedly violating its patent on security technology that helps smartphones, tablets and broadband mobile cards access the internet.
Prism Technologies alleges the companies used systems that it "pioneered and patented," even though they had no legal right to do so. Five separate lawsuits in U.S. District Court of Nebraska were filed against AT&T, Verizon Wireless, T-Mobile USA, Sprint PCS and U.S. Cellular.
The lawsuits say the company secured a patent for its inventions in October 2007. The company is seeking royalty payments with interest, as well as a judge's order for the companies to stop the alleged violations. In each lawsuit, attorneys for Prism say the company will "be greatly and irreparably harmed" if the patent violations continue.
The company's technology allows carriers to block users who haven't paid for Internet service, and determines whether a user is on a limited data plan.
A spokesman for Prism Technologies and several company attorneys declined to comment. Jonathan Caplan, a Prism attorney based in New York, said the company did not want to speak publicly about the lawsuit.
In a statement, attorneys for Prism Technologies said the cellphone companies violated two patents when they used the technology, which controls access to "computer resources that allow user devices such as smartphones, tablets (and) broadband mobile cards to browse the Internet."
Representatives for T-Mobile and Verizon declined to comment, and a Sprint spokesman said he needed to consult with his company's legal department before speaking. Messages left with AT&T and U.S. Cellular were not returned.
Prism has filed similar federal lawsuits against PayPal, Microsoft and other companies. The Microsoft and PayPal cases were settled out of court for an undisclosed amount.
Prism Technologies Group has offered information technology support and consulting since 2003, according to its website.
— Grant Schulte, Associated Press
Disney in animation partnership with China
LOS ANGELES (AP) — The Walt Disney Co. says it is partnering with China's Culture Ministry and Internet service provider Tencent, to help develop the nation's nascent animation industry by training Chinese animators and helping them develop original content.
The partnership, announced Tuesday, will require little to no investment on Disney's part and gives the family entertainment giant the so-called "first look" at developing any promising material into TV shows or movies for Chinese and global audiences.
The partnership comes at a time when Disney is seeking to develop a good relationship with China while it develops a $3.7 billion theme park in Shanghai in a joint venture with the city.
Disney said it will provide expertise in storytelling to the organization, called The National Animation Creative Research and Development Cooperation. Tencent is to provide online marketing support.
Rosetta Stone case against Google may go to trial
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Foreign language education company Rosetta Stone Inc.'s lawsuit against Google Inc. over use of trademarks in its advertising search terms may be headed to trial.
That's after a three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond on Monday sent the case back to the lower court.
Rosetta Stone had sued Google for allowing rivals to advertise copycat software when Rosetta trademarks are used in search terms in its AdWords system. It argued that Google's actions created consumer confusion by allowing counterfeit products to be sold using its trademarks.
A district court dismissed the suit in 2010, saying that the use of trademarks as search words that trigger competing ads was legal. But the appeals court says that some of the claims should be heard at trial.
Vt legislative fight continues over 'cloud tax'
MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — The Appropriations Committee in the Vermont House is considering legislation that would call for $1.9 million in refunds to businesses that have paid sales tax on so-called cloud computing in the past six years. The bill also clarifies that starting this July, the tax will be charged.
A growing number of companies in Vermont are using software located on remote computer servers — often thousands of miles away — to conduct various business processes. The question is whether the 6 percent sales and use tax should be charged on that software, just as it is for software bought inside the state's borders.
The House Ways and Means Committee this past week voted to forgive and refund tax payments going back to 2006, but to charge the tax starting in July.