Film & TV

Rakontur Filmmaker Billy Corben's Tweets Could Negate Local Man's Armed Robbery Conviction

Plenty of documentary filmmakers have dreams of setting a man free through the power of their words.

But this is probably not what Billy Corben had in mind.

Angelo Williams, a Florida City man, claims his armed robbery conviction should be thrown out because Corben, serving as the jury foreman, sent messages on Twitter and Facebook during his trial.

According to the Miami Herald, Corben never divulged information about the case or revealed Williams' identity. Instead, his tweets focused on the type of mundane details most tweets do: what Corben had for lunch (bistec with rice and beans), and what happened to be annoying him at the moment (the courthouse's slow WiFi connection and sole functioning elevator).

One tweet read, "Live-tweeting jury duty. Until battery dies. Or a judge holds me in contempt. Whatever comes 1st. Joking, your honor!" He also posted a photo from a courthouse window with a view to Marlins Park.

Overall, these messages look pretty innocuous. And because they appear to be unrelated to the case itself, we're not sure what damage they could have done. But because they were sent during the Cocaine Cowboys director's stint as foreman, Williams' lawyer Sara Yousuf says, they're grounds for throwing out the conviction. Yousuf claimed Corben "flouted the clear and repeated command of this court by openly inviting input and commentary about Mr. Williams' trial."

Corben, who is in New York City to debut his film Broke at the Tribeca Film Festival, called the motion "pretty desperate."

"It was as fair a trial as anyone could get in Miami-Dade county," he told the Herald. "I couldn't have been more respectful to the process and integrity of the case."

The court is set to consider Yousuf's motion this morning. And in the meantime, Corben is -- of course -- keeping his Facebook followers in the loop:

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Ciara LaVelle is New Times' former arts and culture editor. She earned her BS in journalism at Boston University and moved to Florida in 2004. She joined New Times' staff in 2011.
Contact: Ciara LaVelle