If the captivating developments unfolding in the Casey Anthony courtroom are indeed our nation’s first “social media murder trial,” then here’s a peek behind the curtain.
Of course there is #CaseyAnthony, who’s accused of murdering her 2-year-old daughter #Caylee.
But did you know there’s a “Lawyer Gaga”? “The Velvet Hammer”? The “Sharpie Lady”? “The Jesus Juror”?
It’s the story within the story that social media does not chronicle like the MSM (mainstream media), but indeed here, social media creates.
Some of this has developed on Facebook, but most of this alternate world lives on the quip-filled, unfiltered planet called Twitter.
At times the hashtag #CaseyAnthony trends into the top 10.
If you don’t understand, a quick explanation: Those who write on Twitter often put a keyword in their 140-character-or-less burst to be posted. That keyword is preceded by a #. The more people who use that # in front of the same word, the more likely it is your comments about the same subject will rise to the coveted top 10 spot.
As I sit on the 23rd floor of the Orlando courtroom, my seat squished between a blogger and a rotating parade of spectators, I alternate on my iPad between taking notes as I have for 30 years as a journalist, and toggling over to Twitter to post comments about the trial.
(A quick aside: Just about every reporter has an iPad because the judge said he would not allow the sound of clicks on a computer keyboard. If you’re watching old-school, on TV, you may notice at times the soft glow shining on a journalist’s face. Those are our iPads.)
Back to Twitter. In this instantaneous online world, often I am asked questions. Some are simple: Where is Caylee’s father? Answer: He was never in Caylee’s life, and Casey says he died in a car accident shortly after Caylee's birth.
And there are questions I won’t answer: Do you think she’s guilty? I leave that answer to the jury. I’m a journalist, not a talking head on cable TV.
I also threw a question out to those who follow me on Twitter: Where are you watching? City, state, country?
I was surprised, perhaps because I’m new to this Twitter world, but folks told me they are watching and following the murder trial at work in Philadelphia, in Enid, Okla., in suburban Atlanta.
But I was also told people are tuned in and online in the United Kingdom, in Germany, in Japan and even in Nigeria.
Which brings me back to “Lawyer Gaga,” and others.
These are not the made-up names people use on Twitter (Twitter handles — mine is @KerryNBC).
No, these are the names people on Twitter have given to the incidental players.
Much of this world is created by the “Twitterati” seated in the courtroom, the folks who perhaps are bored by the endless scientific testimony.
“Lawyer Gaga” is a blonde who is often seated just in camera view. Her real name is Whitney Boan and occasionally, we’re told, she works with the defense. “Lawyer Gaga” has yet to speak in the courtroom. She isn’t even seated at the defense table.
“The Velvet Hammer”? That’s Judge Belvin Perry, whose smooth style while harshly scolding the lawyers has given birth to @JudgePerrySays on Twitter.
“The Jesus Juror”? He’s an alternate juror whose beard and good looks earned him the nickname. Folks, since there are no pictures allowed of jurors you have to trust the eyeballs of those in the courtroom on this one.
And “The Sharpie Lady”? She’s the self-appointed monitor in the line for tickets. Her role was greater when there was more chaos. The rules recently changed for public seats in the courtroom. She was writing — with a Sharpie pen — the numbers of each person in line so no one would cut and steal position.
“The Sharpie Lady” is not simply an Internet phenomenon, she’s also a real person, and if you were here you would know her. Why? She had a shirt printed up so everyone knows who she is. Emblazoned on the front it says: “The Sharpie Lady!”
Then there’s “neck-brace-guy,” but I suggest if you really need to know more, join the conversation. If I’m not taking notes, I’ll be right there with you @KerryNBC.