Patterico's Pontifications

11/26/2008

Law and the Internet

Filed under: Crime,Law — DRJ @ 3:37 pm



[Guest post by DRJ]

Allahpundit at Hot Air calls her the most hated woman on the internet and says she got off with a wrist slap.

What to do?

We could consider new laws, wait for the law and/or juries to catch up with modern technology, leave cases like this to civil law remedies, or be satisfied with this result.

I’m not sure there is an optimal solution but the fact that this defendant may have avoided serious criminal penalties is not a free pass. Criminal charges and legal proceedings are onerous to deal with and take their toll in time, money and stress. Further, the fact of an acquittal doesn’t mean a defendant will be considered innocent by society (for example: O. J. Simpson).

I don’t advocate the use of criminal charges to punish people who do immoral but legal acts. It’s important that prosecutors allege and prove a crime occurred, that juries believe a crime has been committed, and that the punishment fits the crime … but sometimes the effort alone has benefits.

— DRJ

24 Responses to “Law and the Internet”

  1. Let’s hope a civil suit will clean out her entire net worth in a matter of months. She’ll be tarred and feathered for this for the rest of her life -just so.

    Dmac (e30284)

  2. Dmac – asshats like this always seem to be judgment proof.

    JD (5f0e11)

  3. Then make new laws to criminalize bad behavior that is not currently on the books.
    I absolutely hate the use of civil courts to address justice that should be criminal.
    Justice should NOT be a For-Profit enterprise.

    Doug Winship (27d4af)

  4. “sometimes the effort alone has benefits” true, and sometimes the effort can be completely misplaced ala Duke Rape Case Prosecution. Being a prosecutor carries great power and great responsibility. I believe prosecutors need to exercise caution and restraint at times, and need to be very aggressive at other times. All too often though (and I used to be one) I see prosecutors who believe they have to be extremely aggressive all the time. To these prosecutors everyone is always guilty. Having spent several years on the defense side now I have learned that often times the truth lies somewhere between what the cops said happened and what the civilian (defendant) said happened. I’ve even had a couple of cases where there was video which proved the cop was lying through his teeth. You read the police report and think “X” then watch the tape and see “-X”

    Back to the story: I believe that a Justice beyond what we can comprehend will be meeted out towards this woman. “It’s important that prosecutors allege and prove a crime occurred, that juries believe a crime has been committed, and that the punishment fits the crime” Crime as defined by our imperfect state legislators and as decided by our imperfect judges and juries. How we define what is and isn’t a crime is often taken for granted. Maybe because of this case some creative prosecutor or state legislators will draft new proposed laws that will clearly define the conduct committed to be a certain, yet to date unnamed, crime. As the technology evolves, the laws will have to evolve with it, otherwise anarchy will rule the day. Not that there’s anything wrong with a little anarchy every now and then….

    J. Raymond Wright (0440ef)

  5. The law is not always necessary when somebody kills your child. I would forgive John Gotti this, for example.

    nk (5fa892)

  6. I thought he was talking about that useless piece of trash Amanda Marcotte. Marcotte is a whining, whingeing victim of the patriarchy who worries about her fuckability while she complains about it. Another self-loathing feminist who won’t admit it.

    daleyrocks (5d22c0)

  7. The law is not always necessary when somebody kills your child.

    That was an accident, obviously – you could not have chosen a more inappropriate analogy in this case.

    Dmac (e30284)

  8. Are you sure, Dmac? Were you to live for one thing only what would it be? Something other than to care for your child? Or to avenge it? What law, what morality, what world would you place above it?

    nk (5fa892)

  9. In its common usage, ‘wrist slap’ implies a punishment less than what was deserved for the offense. But criminal charges should never have been brought in the first place, so Drew isn’t getting off with less of a criminal penalty than she should have received.

    And as far as holding her civilly liable, when did the posters and commenters here become a bunch of freaking crybaby liberals, where EVERYTHING is someone else’s fault and you rush to find the deep pockets? God, I dread the day when not being nice to someone, perhaps even being mean, maybe even really, really, really mean leaves one responsible for whatever stupid things that person does ‘because’ you weren’t nice enough to them (is it too late to pursue civil charges against the girls in college whose refusal to put out made me go out and do stupid things? Just wondering). Yeah, it’s cold, but one person and one person only was responsible for the girl’s suicide.. and it wasn’t Drew.

    It’s interesting that a number of recent posts here asked what the Republican party ought to do… might I suggest that they start by trying to restore the principle that responsibility lies within ourselves? It’s not Wall Street’s fault that my 401(k) went down, it’s mine. It’s not my fault that GM is all but bankrupt, it’s their own darn fault. And people aren’t losing their home to foreclosure because of unscrupulous mortgage lenders, they’re losing their houses because they were idiots who bought more house than they should have (no offense to any such idiots reading this).

    End of rant.

    steve sturm (3b7833)

  10. Are you sure, Dmac?

    Yes, quite sure – Gotti was a brutal thug, and had no regard for anyone’s life other than his own and his family’s. This was not mob – related, and the driver in question was guilty of nothing more than not having eyes in the back of his head.

    Dmac (e30284)

  11. Interesting range of views. I disagree with nk, as Ms. Drew did not kill Megan Meier. She did not put the noose around that poor child’s neck.

    On the other hand, we have steve sturm, who seems to think that Megan -bored to tears- decided “what the heck, I’ll just off myself,” and goes on a rant about “responsibility.”

    steve, if someone jumps off a bridge, are they solely responsible? If they are on the railing, and someone pushes them, are they still solely responsible?

    What Mr. sturm seems not to realize is that Megan was pushed; not literally, but figuratively. Lori Drew obviously knew what buttons to push, and she did so relentlessly.

    Did Ms. Drew intend Megan’s death, or did she “just” want the girl to suffer? Only Ms. Drew, and God, know that one. What is clear is that her actions pushed an unstable and vulnerable teenager into suicide.

    Alas, a heartless hoax, cruel deceit, and sadistic torment do not a felony make.

    It is self-evident that DRJ is conflicted, and understandably so. How do you outlaw being a cruel, heartless bitch? Because that’s the crime of which Ms. Drew is guilty.

    Let me know when y’all can solve that one…

    Casey (9ee427)

  12. If breaking a web site’s TOS is a crime, then Meier was just as guilty. She was under 18, and therefore had no right to use MySpace (or Google, for that matter) in the first place. She (and her estate) should therefore be estopped from suing Drew for doing the same thing. And so should her parents, who allowed her to do this, on their computer and over their internet connection.

    Really, this whole trial has been a farce. If you break a company’s TOS, it’s entitled to stop serving you, if it can work out how. That’s it. It is not entitled to call down the law on you, and the prosecutor who came up with this hare-brained theory should be ashamed of himself for turning just about every person in the country into a federal criminal.

    Nobody killed Meier but herself. Hurting someone’s feelings is not and cannot ever be a crime, or even a tort — if that’s not what the First Amendment is for, then I’d like to know what is.

    Milhouse (89df7f)

  13. Casey, pushing someone off a bridge is murder; telling them to jump is a First Amendment right.

    Milhouse (89df7f)

  14. Casey:

    As you agree, there’s a difference between a literal and a figurative ‘push’. Liability attaches to the former, not the latter, no matter how much one’s bleeding heart argues that they are figuratively the same.

    And it is not so clear that Drew’s figuratively actions pushed the girl to suicide: if you’re looking for the trigger, how about her mom, as her mom was the last person she talked to before committing suicide, and as I remember the storyline, that conversation didn’t go so well, did it? And if the mom didn’t push her to suicide, she certainly could have stopped the suicide, both literally and figuratively, but chose not to. So why not blame her? You’re not letting her off the hook for what she said to the girl or for not acting to prevent the suicide because she didn’t know her daughter was suicidal, are you?

    steve sturm (3b7833)

  15. Hurting someone’s feelings is not and cannot ever be a crime, or even a tort
    .
    See the tort of intentional infliction of emotional distress. Supposedly, the tort involves more than “hurting someone’s feelings,” but eventually, the line drawing is done by judges and juries, who can be just as big a bunch of idiots as Democrats and liberals.

    cboldt (3d73dd)

  16. If breaking a web site’s TOS is a crime, then Meier was just as guilty.

    Milhouse

    You’re kidding right?

    California legislature writes our laws and it was those laws that were violated, not some web sites terms of service. If breaking a web sites TOS was a crime punished by the state, web sites would be the law makers and that’s beyond absurd.

    ML (14488c)

  17. She deserves to be hated, and there’s no reason I can think of that that what she did shouldn’t have been a crime. But rewriting laws ex post facto to fix that might just have a downside or two.

    Joel Rosenberg (677e59)

  18. No, ML, she was not charged with violating any California law. The only thing she was charged with, and convicted of, was breaking MySpace’s TOS. The prosecution’s theory is that breaking any web site’s TOS is a federal crime, and the jury seems to have bought it. You’re right that it is beyond absurd, so why are you arguing against me? That’s precisely my point. According to this theory we are all criminals, including Meier herself, and it’s entirely within the discretion of any federal prosecutor to charge us at a whim.

    Milhouse (89df7f)

  19. Milhouse
    Prosecutors in Los Angeles sought to indict Drew, charging her with unauthorized access to MySpace’s computers, using a federal anti-hacking statute known as the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.

    I stand corrected, it was a federal law not a California law.
    Beside that I don’t see how legally anyone could be charged with a crime based upon some company policy, it cant happen.

    My apologies if I came off a bit abrupt.

    ML (14488c)

  20. “California legislature writes our laws and it was those laws that were violated, not some web sites terms of service”

    You’re not familiar with the case, are you? This your reaction to it being ridiculous is exactly the reaction a lot of people are having. This lori drew prosecution is a joke. Violating myspace TOS is not computer fraud. Its especially not so since lori drew did not make the profile and did not agree to the TOS and did not even read the TOS.

    imdw (1a2840)

  21. Comment by imdw — 11/28/2008 @ 6:17 pm

    If the facts are as you allege, she should have no problem winning a reversal upon appeal!

    Another Drew (5a0f73)

  22. I’m not the only one alleging it. The government’s star witness says it.

    http://blog.wired.com/27bstroke6/2008/11/lori-drew-pla-3.html

    Sure we can wait for appeal. But there’s also the still pending motion by the defense to toss this ridiculous case.

    imdw (76ac9e)

  23. Yes, but trial court judges are very reluctant to overturn the considered decisions of juries, especially if he had already ruled on the propriety of the charges.

    Another Drew (5a0f73)

  24. Violating myspace TOS is not computer fraud. Its especially not so since lori drew did not make the profile and did not agree to the TOS and did not even read the TOS.

    Comment by imdw — 11/28/2008 @ 6:17 pm

    Whether or not it violates the computer fraud and abuse act is a matter of opinion. In my opinion is does violate the acts seeing that her intent from day-one was to inflict emotional harm.

    I never read the statute against murder, so it must not apply to me? Or I didn’t read the speed limit sign, so it doesn’t apply to me is absurd. Ignorance is not a legal defense.

    ML (14488c)


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