Syracuse Post-Standard reporter Doug Dowty has been documenting an unusual legal precedent in Central New York. For the first time, a state Supreme Court trial that was about to go to jury deliberations was declared a mistrial as a result of new evidence discovered via social media.
A 43-year-old woman, Vicki Calcagno, had been suing singer Rick Springfield for damages related to his alleged fall from the stage into the audience at a 2004 State Fair performance. All was proceeding in court until a Facebook-verified comment popped up Tuesday below a cnycentral.com article. Calcagno’s lawyer saw the comment, which corroborated his client’s version of events, and met with the person who posted it (and her family) Wednesday morning:
The family claimed they were standing next to Calcagno when Springfield slipped and hit them. Members of that family also claimed to suffer from headaches and minor injuries, but did not report them, [attorney] Goldblatt said. The family did not know Calcagno, the lawyer said. He declined to identify them, other than to say they lived about 45 minutes from Syracuse.
The Facebook commenter, “Katie Nolin”, went on to engage with readers about Springfield’s statement that he did no remember falling into the crowd, adding: ‘How would you not remember falling in a rain storm onto the crowd but remember the 4pm show was cancelled because of lightning? I’m not saying the lady is right to sue him; if she was that injured, they would have called the ambulance over. My point is he is saying he remembers everything clearly EXCEPT the falling down… He’s just as full of BS as the woman suing him.’
Following the mistrial declaration, a special counsel for Syracuse’s regional court system told Dowty it’s “a whole new game now.” It certainly is.