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July 2, 2009

"Judge Acquits Lori Drew in Cyberbullying Case, Overrules Jury"

The title of this post is the headline of this breaking report from Wired news.  It is not clear to me that the judges has exactly "overruled" the jury, but rather just concluded as a matter of law that the charges against Drew could not be legally sustained.  Whether this is activist judging or justice is an interesting question (and perhaps one that will be presented to the Ninth Circuit if prosecutors decide to appeal).

July 2, 2009 at 03:33 PM | Permalink

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Comments

Finally someone with a lick of sense.

Posted by: Soronel Haetir | Jul 2, 2009 3:59:00 PM

When everything is criminal, everyone is a criminal, and LE and prosecutors need only pick and choose who they want to exercise their "discretion" against.

Have you read, let alone carefully read, the typepad.com terms of service? Do you know with certainty if you are a criminal or not?

This is a good ruling.

Posted by: George | Jul 2, 2009 4:08:48 PM

The tragedy is that another life had to be brought to near the edge of ruin before she finally got a ruling in her favor.

Of course, I am not condoning her behavior. But not every obnoxious act is a federal offense.

Posted by: Marc Shepherd | Jul 2, 2009 4:39:39 PM

This case criminalized a violation of the terms of use. Everyone here has violated the terms of use. The terms of use are themselves unconscionable, and a form of theft, or at least, unjust enrichment. I can explain the last statement in private.

I salute this judge for obeying the law. I am not being sarcastic.

I was disappointed at the lack of aggressiveness of her pro bono defense. I wanted it to attack the prosecutor personally. Do total e-discovery on this vile federal thug, and counter-attack this enemy to freedom on all personal and professional fronts. To deter. The defense lawyer will never do that unless forced by threats to his own legal and professional survival.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Jul 2, 2009 4:41:14 PM

"The tragedy is that another life had to be brought to near the edge of ruin before she finally got a ruling in her favor."

Are you really suggesting this freakshow is a victim?

Posted by: federalist | Jul 2, 2009 4:54:19 PM

The suicider was suicidal long before the incident. The family is far more likely to have been a major factor, than a fictional character on a chat room. The family sought to scapegoat someone for 1) their genetic defect; 2) the precipitation of a suicide attempts; 3) their failure to supervise and to treat their daughter for months or years of pathology prior to the tragedy.

The rule of law was the real victim. This prosecutor threatened everyone on the Internet by this false prosecution. There is not even a tort here. One fictional character messing with another fictional character. There is not even a relationship, let alone, any superior relationship. I have no doubt, the prosecutor will be working elsewhere than in the federal government, after a face saving interval.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Jul 2, 2009 5:10:18 PM

The judge did the right thing.

Nevertheless, Lori Drew’s conduct was despicable.

Posted by: Stanley Feldman | Jul 2, 2009 5:48:05 PM

Are you really suggesting this freakshow is a victim?

Anytime someone is prosecuted for a non-existent offense, they are a victim. The fact that we find her conduct obnoxious is beside the point. Obnoxiousness is not a federal offense.

Posted by: Marc Shepherd | Jul 2, 2009 8:36:04 PM

Suicide is, by definition, a self inflicted act, otherwise, it would have been homicide. If everyone who received an unpleasant email decided to kill themselves, no one would be alive today. Clearly, there were underlying issues that unfortunaley were not addressed. It's a tragic lose/lose situation for everyone.

While she should be ashamed of herself and will have to live with it for the rest of her life, this is an excellent ruling. Just because it is unfortunate doesn't mean someone should be criminally charged.

Thank you for the contact information Dan, I will be sure to ask the clerk to commend the judge.

Posted by: Bernie | Jul 2, 2009 9:20:08 PM

"It is not clear to me that the judges has exactly "overruled" the jury, but rather just concluded as a matter of law that the charges against Drew could not be legally sustained."

horse hockey...if they couldn't be legally sustained then why did the trial happen at all. Why waste the time of both the people involved and the money of the people on a criminal prosecution that couldnt' be "legally sustained" sorry if you let it go to a jury then you need to live with their verdict!

Posted by: rodsmith3510 | Jul 3, 2009 1:20:00 AM

might want to watch talk like this!

"Posted by: Dan | Jul 2, 2009 8:28:05 PM

Are you really suggesting this freakshow is a victim?

Anytime someone is prosecuted for a non-existent offense, they are a victim. The fact that we find her conduct obnoxious is beside the point. Obnoxiousness is not a federal offense."

if that's true then we have 1,000's of convictions in so-called sex offence trials where THERE WAS NO VICTIM who need to be released and the state needs to pay though the nose for the convictions.

Posted by: rodsmith3510 | Jul 3, 2009 1:22:11 AM

Rod: You are coming from the world of logic and common sense. Has nothing to do with the law. Please, briefly review Rule 29:

http://www.law.cornell.edu/rules/frcrmp/Rule29.htm

The prosecutor may appeal, and a new trial would not be double jeopardy, even though it would really be double jeopardy in the real world, again unrelated to the law.

Again, you are logical in saying that crime should cause a harm to justify punishment. Many crimes cause mutual pleasure, the opposite of harm. Again, that is logic and reality.

The goal of preventing criminal harm is the masking ideology of the criminal law. It does no such thing. It is in utter failure in all its self-stated goals. Its sole success is in lawyer rent seeking. At that hidden goal, it is a glowing success. As a result, the lawyer protects pure evil, perhaps as professional courtesy, the profession being a criminal cult enterprise. It persecutes anything that is good, hating goodness.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Jul 3, 2009 2:18:39 AM

This girl would have committed suicide at some point over something else if it wasn't this. She was obviously unstable and in need of help. I don't condone the behavior of Lori Drew, remember we are dealing with young people. We should act the adult but I also don't believe that she was the cause of this suicide. People contemplate it long before they do it. We have all been on the receiving end of a joke, email or something else that was negative in our lives. She didn't have the tools to deal with these situations as most kids don't these days. Too sheltered.

Posted by: JR | Jul 3, 2009 5:42:03 AM

JR, would you have the same opinion if it were a predator grooming her (without any sex talk yet) and she committed suicide when she discovered he was really a fat, old balding man?

Posted by: George | Jul 3, 2009 12:41:20 PM

“rodsmith3510” I am going to try and answer your questions. I hope that you are taking this discussion seriously and that you are a lawyer. In my experience, non-lawyers are there to be patronized like bunnies.

“horse hockey...if they couldn't be legally sustained then why did the trial happen at all.”

The answer to this is that it was not clear or known what evidence would be presented. Moreover, the defense may have chosen not to ask the court to dismiss, because it did not want to give the prosecution a clue as to its legal argument, so that they could bolster their case. Therefore, it is far from “horse hockey.”

In fact, juries are often wrong, or mistakes are made pre-trial that are not supported by law. Since juries are often composed of people with little education, it is likely that they are wrong a good chunk of the time.


Posted by: S.cotus | Jul 3, 2009 9:25:30 PM

I always enjoy the comments of Scotus. He is the rare lawyer that is candid about the real attitudes of profession. It is a criminal cult enterprise, with contempt for all those outside of it.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Jul 3, 2009 11:20:35 PM

"The fact that we find her conduct obnoxious is beside the point. Obnoxiousness is not a federal offense."

If I steal a parking spot you were waiting for, I'm obnoxious.

If I cut in front of you in a queue, I'm obnoxious.

If I open a MySpace account and create a fake persona of a teenage boy for the purpose of spreading malicious rumors about your daughter, fully aware of her past battles with depression; if I use this fake boy persona to make your daughter think someone loves her, then ultimately exacerbate her depression, triggering her suicide, I'm obnoxious.

Just wondering, which one of those doesn't belong?

Posted by: alex | Jul 4, 2009 1:41:55 AM

"Since juries are often composed of people with little education, it is likely that they are wrong a good chunk of the time."

I'll preface this by saying that I have what is considered "the very best education" and, still, if I lean my head back enough, I can almost see you on that horse. I've had people in my doctoral program at Stanford be far more "wrong" than any middle schooler I've taught.

Posted by: alex | Jul 4, 2009 1:51:04 AM

"Activist judging or "justice". I was surprised to see the word "activist" in the article. The appellation "activist judge" is always troubling. In a criminal trial usually the first opportunity to dismiss a case is at the motion for judgment of acquittal at the close of the government's case. The case should have been dismissed and the defendant acquitted then.

An "activist" judge is one who sentences a 72 year old defendant to 150 years in prison.

The perjorative term "activist" when coupled with the word "judge" is a term invented by Lee Atwater as part of the Southern Strategy to wrest votes from bigots who up until the time of the passage of the civil rights acts in 1964 and 1965 voted with the Democratic Party. The judges who threw out miscegenation laws were activists. Judges who acknowledge the right of privacy as being protected by the constitution are branded activists. The strategy had the unintended consequences of turning the entire Northeast from Republican moderate to all Democrat. The "solid South" turned Republican for a few terms but now the strategy is burning up. The Nixon, Reagan, George Bush, Atwater, vote is shrinking into the hills and hollows.

Another point. In the state of Missouri a suicide is an accident. An insurance company cannot refuse to pay on a life insurance policy because the person who killed themself did so intentionally. Suicide is a complete defense to a murder charge. So is accident. I would say that those prosecutors out in California were pretty activist. I would like to see the prosecutors put into evidence the state of mind of any suicide person at the moment they pull the trigger. It may be that the person is thinking: I am killing myself because I hate life, but I will get even with Aunt Doe Doe and I am going to blame Aunt Doe Doe (in the suicide note) for calling me a sissy back when I was in eighth grade. That will show her.

So much for the internet being hailed as a "Bully Pulpit". We cannot, in this blog, admonish the Taliban to go jump off a cliff? We cannot do so because some nut in California might prosecute us when somebody in Afghanistan does so? It is time to reign in these activist prosecutors.

Posted by: mpb | Jul 4, 2009 11:32:40 AM

The innocent defendant should always demand total e-discovery of all personal and work computers of the federal thug lawyer, searching for an improper motive.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Jul 4, 2009 12:55:12 PM

I will add another example of activist judge-- one who imposes the death penalty when a jury of 12 cannot or refuses to do so.

Posted by: mpb | Jul 4, 2009 2:20:00 PM

I can empathize with the mother of the deceased but at the same time, holding this woman accountable for the life of an unstable, unsupervised, problem teen will no doubt create more problems in the future than serve "justice."

If any number of adult psycho's online get involved in an online relationship and ends up committing suicide because the guy she was talking too didn't have the right size...do we prosecute him for deception or are we understanding that he lied because he didn't want to appear "small?"

Pfft!

Posted by: Grateful | Jul 4, 2009 8:02:11 PM

roadsmith3510 says

if that's true then we have 1,000's of convictions in so-called sex offence trials where THERE WAS NO VICTIM who need to be released and the state needs to pay though the nose for the convictions.

I am a lawyer and what you fail to realize is that the 1,000's of "To Catch A Predator" victims are all MEN. Lori Drew is a WOMAN and, thereby, not responsible for what she does. The judge was just doing his job as an enforcer of American values by excusing this adult (white) woman from any culpability for her crime.

Does anybody seriously content that if Lori Drew were a man that she would be walking the streets now? Not a chance. She would have been clapped in jail on state harassment charges of harassment or endangering the welfare of a child etc., and we wouldn't even be talking about this.

When are members of the legal community going to finally get it?? This is America people!! Woman are not reponsible for their conduct in this country! Duh.

Posted by: tom | Jul 4, 2009 10:06:43 PM

Tom: If you are a criminal defense lawyer, will you ever consider doing e-discovery on the prosecution? Or would that deter them, and threaten your job, by lowering the volume of false accusations?

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Jul 5, 2009 5:23:03 AM

I don't know, Tom... All I'm saying is that this would present more problems than serve justice. Women are just as capable of committing the crimes men commit with one exception.

Maybe we should do as we do in America. Chose a token, make a big scene, prosecute the individual merely to make an example of them, then them let her go free as we do with child sex offenders who btw have the HIGHEST recidivism rate.

Why do we let these sex offenders off on probation or sever parole, and said no to capital punishment for rapists?

Because Tom...this is a MAN'S world. THAT'S why, Tom.

Posted by: Grateful | Jul 5, 2009 7:57:01 PM

As children are pushed to killing themselves governments and law makers have to recognise the 21st century has added another lethal weapon to the arsenal of earlier times. Cyber bullying, a gutless and anonymous IT weapon, destroys young lives. It is as inhumane to the victims as the torturing of prisoners of war. Bullying is now starting as young as kindergarten, usually instigated by children that have experienced inappropriate parenting, and is out of control by the time these children reach their teens. Cyber bullying is just another presentation of psychological damage and needs professional treatment which is what the law should be insisting on as part of the sentencing/rehabilitation - for both the offender and parents involved.

I am a mature age student returned to study (double degree Social Science & Psych Science) formerly EO of the Department of Employment Education, Education and Training and child welfare is my major interest and concern.

Posted by: JB Davis | Sep 24, 2009 11:09:52 PM

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