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December 2, 2008

Juror says publicly that she wanted MySpace bullying defendant sent to prison

Late last week, I asked in this post, "What sentence would you impose on Lori Drew, the MySpace bullying defendant?".  Today, thanks to this article from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, we learn that at least some of the juror in the case hope to see Drew in prison garb:

The forewoman of the jury that convicted Lori Drew of misdemeanors for cyber bullying said Monday that a majority of the panel favored a felony conspiracy verdict that could have sent her to prison.

Most jurors believed a felony conviction would send a message that Internet sites should be better regulated for fraud, the forewoman, Valentina Kunasz, said in a telephone interview. But four jurors would not be convinced, Kunasz said, blocking a felony verdict.

"I would have liked to see this lady go to jail to change the way Internet sites are run," said Kunasz, 25, a former hairdresser who lives in Los Angeles County.

Last week in Los Angeles, the jury convicted Drew, 49, of O'Fallon, Mo., on three misdemeanor charges of illegally accessing a computer. It found her not guilty of more serious felony versions of those charges, and deadlocked on the felony count of conspiracy.

If the convictions hold, Drew likely faces little more than probation. U.S. District Judge George Wu has not yet ruled on motions asking that he use his power to acquit Drew of all charges despite the jury verdict....

Kunasz described herself as among eight jurors who believed that Drew acted maliciously. "I didn't think she intended to have this girl kill herself," Kunasz said. "But she knew she was suicidal, depressed and taking medicines, and still continued to pursue this act."

It didn't matter much whether Drew typed the messages to Megan, or whether it was Sarah or Grills, Kunasz said. Drew didn't stop it, and that was malicious. "What is a 47-year-old woman doing egging on her child and employee to do this?" the juror asked.

Four holdouts on the 12-member jury believed that Drew set up the MySpace page to learn what Megan was saying about Drew's daughter, not to harm her, Kunasz said. "I wish that those four other jurors would have had a different opinion," she said. "But they thought what they thought, and they were entitled to that." None of the other jurors could be reached for comment.

This article and the statements from the jury forewoman are especially interesting (and somewhat peculiar) given that Drew still faces a prison term of up to 3 years for her three misdemeanor convictions.  Regular readers may recall another high-profile defendant (Wesley Snipes) who got 3 years in prison for three federal misdemeanor convictions even after he was acquitted of more serious federal tax evasion charges.

I sense from this article that the jurors (or at least the forewoman) thought that a felony conviction would essentially ensure some prison time for Drew, and also thought misdemeanor convictions would essentially preclude a prison term.  Of course, this is not true: Drew could still have gotten a sentence of probation even if convicted on all counts, and she might still get sentenced to prison despite her acquittal on felony counts.  But it is not surprising that jurors misunderstand federal sentencing realities given that they typically are not allowed to be informed of the possible sentencing consequences of their decisions.

December 2, 2008 at 06:16 PM | Permalink


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Hopefully, these bozo jurors will be ignored, in the same way jurors are ignore when they say they don't want someone sent to prison.

"Bozo" is the name given to jurors by many prosecutors, and is commonly used by real Americans.

Posted by: S.cotus | Dec 2, 2008 7:59:26 PM

nobody should ever go to prison to make a point. Idiot jurors... this is why I no longer trust the jury system. The jury system was revolutionary back in the days when it was people versus government. When the people not only trust and believe the government, but side with the government and depend on the government, the idea of a jury as a wall between defendant and state is turned on its head.

Assuming the judge in my case is not a right-wing wacko who still thinks he/she is in the DA's office, I prefer bench trials.

Posted by: Bruce | Dec 3, 2008 7:30:53 AM

Re: "'Bozo' is the name given to jurors by many prosecutors, and is commonly used by real Americans."

I've never heard any prosecutor refer to any juror as a bozo.

Posted by: Prosecutorial Indiscretion | Dec 3, 2008 9:50:38 AM

Usually it is "bozos." But then again, I have been around alot, in a lot of places and listen alot.

Do they call them numbskulls around your parts?

Posted by: S.cotus | Dec 3, 2008 12:37:39 PM

No, we usually reserve "numbskulls" for defendants (occasionally it refers to defense counsel; occasionally it refers to other prosecutors or investigators who have done something dopey). "Knuckleheads" is another popular term for defendants in these parts. Jurors, we just call jurors. We like them, even when they occasionally go against us.

Posted by: Prosecutorial Indiscretion | Dec 3, 2008 2:26:46 PM

In these parts, we call our criminal defendant clients our heroes, as in "my hero was so drunk he vomited on the cop in the DWI video".

Posted by: Bruce | Dec 3, 2008 2:39:58 PM

Considering that most defense counsel I know are former prosecutors and have more experience than the prosecution side, calling them “numbskulls” sounds sort of juvenile.

Jurors are usually chosen for their lack of education. And educated jurors are usually struck by the prosecution. The remaining once often don’t have graduate educations and are properly described as “idiots in the box” by prosecutors.

It is good public policy to say nice things about jurors in public, but really, they are a nuisance which is why the Bush administration argued that it should be allowed to put people in jail without a trial by jury.

Posted by: S.cotus | Dec 3, 2008 10:16:39 PM

I don't believe she should go to jail. They are charging her for the wrong things. You can't charge for harassment because she did nothing of the sort becaause they are linked to discrimination laws. To tell you the truth I blame the mom of the girl.

Posted by: | Dec 11, 2008 7:00:18 AM

wow can this get any dumber. first off this is the dumbest thign i've ever heard of no one has been tried for writing fake love letters or anything of that nature int he history of the United States if the child was dumb enough to believe the fake person then thats the child's and the child's parents fault. how about we place the blame back where it should be on the parents of the dead girl not other people. far too long have people been blaming everyone else under the sun for their own short comings. the world we live in has many cruel things that happen to countless people on a daily basis and they dont committ suicide. and why is that because the majority of people realize that it isnt an answer to problems, and its a cowards way out. i think we should bring a lawsuit up and sue the people feeding into this bull sh*t and teaching today's youth its alright to off yourself if you can't get what you want. since thats the message im seeing being portrayed

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