The Weird Underworld of Twitter’s Trial Watchers

On March 11, 2015 thesleepwalking” trial of Joseph Mitchell ended in an acquittal. Mitchell, from Durham, killed his son in 2010 during a parasomnia episode. Because it was such a bizarre case, the entire trial was live-streamed on local news websites.

I followed the case closely because my dad was Mitchell’s lawyer and the Fergusons support each other (at least until I picked up crochet and no one complimented me.)

So I followed Twitter with the #JosephMitchell hashtag. And that’s when I found them. The bizarre, baffling community of trial watchers – people who watch live streams of trials and tweet about it.

The most puzzling thing about trial watchers is that they actually watch trials. For the most part, trial proceedings are agonizingly boring – they’re full of confusing law jargon, long breaks and lame witness questions.  But these people watch them. Why? Who are you people? Why? Seriously, why?

From my research most of the trial watchers are middle-aged white women who obviously don’t work because they watch trials all day. Their bios read things like: “Mother, grandmother, wife, trial watcher. Love my two dogs!” and stupid stuff like that.

Here are a few links to some trial watchers I came across while following the Joseph Mitchell trial:

I encourage you to click on all of them to give you an idea of what the trial-watching community is like. And it is a community, they discuss trial proceedings among themselves, offering their opinions, asking where to find live streams. And that’s all they tweet about. It’s just so odd.

Following the Joseph Mitchell trial on Twitter and discovering the trial-watching cult was eye-opening, mystifying and at times disturbing.


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