Bad Decisions: Judge Allows Evidence Of Suicide In Lori Drew Computer Fraud Case

from the bad,-bad,-bad dept

While the entire lawsuit against Lori Drew is a joke, the one good thing was that it appeared the judge was going to exclude any evidence related to Megan Meier's suicide -- as the fact that the girl committed suicide has no bearing on whether or not Drew violated computer fraud laws. Unfortunately, though, the judge has now reversed himself and will allow such evidence to be presented at the trial. This makes the case officially ridiculous. There is simply no way that Drew can get a fair trial.

She is being charged with computer fraud. The fact that a girl eventually committed suicide should have absolutely no bearing on whether or not computer fraud happened. But, because of the emotional connection to the fact that a girl committed suicide, some folks want to string up someone out of revenge. Unfortunately, the emotions surrounding the case will lead way too many people to conclude that it's okay to find a woman guilty on an entirely separate issue that will set a horrible precedent. At this point, it's quite clear that the lawsuit has nothing to do with the actual law, but it's an attempt to punish someone because a young girl killed herself. It's understandable that people are angry over Megan Meier's suicide, but that's simply no excuse for twisting laws for lynch-mob justice.


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  1.  
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    Matt, Nov 17th, 2008 @ 11:53am

    Legally, You're Right

    But if hell exists, there's a place down there reserved especially for that woman.

     

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  2.  
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    Greg, Nov 17th, 2008 @ 11:55am

    You're right, it's a joke that she's being charged with this. They should charge her with First Degree Murder for premeditating the youths death as she knew would happen with the right psychology. Child Abuse also comes to mind here, although I'd rather see the first charge I mentioned stick.

     

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  3.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 17th, 2008 @ 11:56am

    Re: Legally, You're Right

    Bear in mind that most (western) religions see suicide as being just as sinful as murder. So if hell exists, Megan and Lori will be roommates.

     

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    known coward, Nov 17th, 2008 @ 11:59am

    well

    I completely disagree with this site about this case. Criminal harassment is harassment no matter whether it takes place on the computer, or in person. That the harrsment lead to suicide is perfectly valid to be allowed in the case.

    Unless of course there is some legal reason that one of the legal types on this site can chime in on (note: I only play a lawyer on TV, I am not a real lawyer) that this type of evidence is usally excluded in these cases.

    Our being for the death of Lori Drew (as I am), or for the coronation of Lori Drew(as apparently Mike is), should not be the determinate of what is valid in the case or not. Only the law says what is valid in this trial, not the preffered outcome of the writers or readers of this site.

     

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  5.  
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    known coward, Nov 17th, 2008 @ 11:59am

    well

    I completely disagree with this site about this case. Criminal harassment is harassment no matter whether it takes place on the computer, or in person. That the harrsment lead to suicide is perfectly valid to be allowed in the case.

    Unless of course there is some legal reason that one of the legal types on this site can chime in on (note: I only play a lawyer on TV, I am not a real lawyer) that this type of evidence is usally excluded in these cases.

    Our being for the death of Lori Drew (as I am), or for the coronation of Lori Drew(as apparently Mike is), should not be the determinate of what is valid in the case or not. Only the law says what is valid in this trial, not the preffered outcome of the writers or readers of this site.

     

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  6.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 17th, 2008 @ 12:03pm

    Roe vs Wade

    I gotta admit I am surprised by the underlying sentiment directed towards the law in these posts. Most articles Masnick blogs on are based on the potential precedent that could get set in law rather then the actual case. First, if you feel the law should be something that is indisputable there would be no need for a lawyer or a judge. You break the law the penalty would simply be what ever penalty is set to that crime. It would be as clear cut as that.

    Before everyone rolls their eyes and says this is emotional hog wash you should really consider what happened. If you are so unfeeling that you could care less that two parents lost a child I hardly feel you should act as a judge in this case. Like Roe vs. Wade it can be overturned. The philosphical arguement that many seem to be making is far worse then a decision to allow evidence that may not be related to the case. If you envision a society where laws are carved in stone your asking for a dictatorship, communist state, or a monarchy. Your world vision is far more scary then this decision.

    I understand the parents are pursuing a case that stinks of revenge. But I certainly understand why they are doing it. And most people would probably do the samething themselves if they lost a child. Is it going to easy for the parents to prove that Drews motive was to induce suicide? I would say its going to be almost impossible for a jury to buy that. But I certainly understand whats happening here. The parents are throwing whatever charges they can at Drew and hope they stick. It will be up to the jury to decide on the case. If you have no faith in the jury thats to bad. So before you go screaming about the ramifications of the law I would take the parents loss into consideration rather then your philosphical beliefs on the court system.

     

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  7.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 17th, 2008 @ 12:09pm

    Re: well

    I hardly think it's fair to say that Mike is "for the coronation of Lori Drew." It's a matter of legal principle. A (overused) example is the NYCLU defending the KKK's right to protest in New York City. Just because something feels like it should be illegal or feels immoral doesn't mean that the law should be twisted to suit the emotional response of the community.

    I'm not a legal type, but this type of evidence should be excluded because it is irrelevant to the case. the indictment is on computer fraud, not murder.

     

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    Dosquatch, Nov 17th, 2008 @ 12:11pm

    The joke is the charges

    And not the lawsuit. Charges of some sort need to be filed, and I imagine there are proper laws that fit better than computer fraud. (perhaps harrassment, or some form of stalking?) I cannot agree with the Peter-Singer-Esque "it's tragic, but so what?" mentality. This stuff matters.

    If we do not hold perpetrators accountable for these sorts of actions (insert slippery slope), we are saying that it is legally acceptable to torment our fellow man, to whatever point of emotional failure we desire.

    If we physically push a person once, that is assault and we can be arrested and jailed, but if we engage in protracted emotional abuse there is often a dearth of law to address the injustice properly.

    Drew engaged in reprehensible behavior. A girl is dead. Damned right people are outraged. And, based on the principle of traditional "human-centric ethics" that the common man "basically knows what's right" (and the principle upon which trial-by-jury is based) she most certainly should be held accountable by whatever means are available to the prosecutors. If it means twisting the law, perhaps that will encourage the legislators to pass better law.

     

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  9.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 17th, 2008 @ 12:14pm

    Re: Roe vs Wade

    "First, if you feel the law should be something that is indisputable there would be no need for a lawyer or a judge."

    that's completely misplaced. the reason there are lawyers and judges is not because the law isn't sacred, they work to ensure due process. If murder is something that is indisputably criminal, there still need to be courts and lawyers to prove guilt.

    also, you don't seem too familiar with the case. it isn't the parents who are charging Drew. That's not how the justice system works. The state (in this case the federal government) is responsible for bringing criminal charges.

     

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  10.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 17th, 2008 @ 12:14pm

    Re: well

    The problem with your statement is that the law didn't say what is valid in this trial, the judge did.

     

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  11.  
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    Stephen Finch, Nov 17th, 2008 @ 12:15pm

    What Mike is defending is the concept of the law being, as Aristotle said, "reason unaffected by desire," in this case, desire for revenge.

    If they want revenge, they should hire a hit man. It has no place in the court.

     

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  12.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 17th, 2008 @ 12:17pm

    Re: The joke is the charges

    if you have to bastardize the law in order to "encourage the legislators to pass better law" then what good is the law in the first place? since the "common man" is the morally superior being, why don't we just abolish the rule of law and let Joe the Rioter lynch anyone who tickles him funny?

     

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  13.  
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    Anonymous Poster, Nov 17th, 2008 @ 12:18pm

    This is an absolutely ridiculous situation, and everyone involved should be truly ashamed of themselves. (I'm including Lori Drew, though I'm sure she already feels bad enough as it is without this utter bullshit surrounding her.)

     

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  14.  
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    Anonymous Coward (profile), Nov 17th, 2008 @ 12:20pm

    Re: well

    I agree with mike, the suicide has nothing to do with this case. She is being charged with Computer Fraud! Not harassment, not murder, not abuse. FRAUD. It is very sad that this girl died because of what happened to her, but the suicide does not have anything to do with the charge of FRAUD.

     

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  15.  
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    Phillip, Nov 17th, 2008 @ 12:26pm

    Re: Roe vs Wade

    The tragedy of this girls' suicide has nothing to do with law regarding computer fraud. That's what Mike is pointing out, and he's right.

     

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  16.  
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    Mark K (profile), Nov 17th, 2008 @ 12:34pm

    Re: well

    @known coward - You are correct. Criminal Harrassment is harassment, no matter what. The problem is that this case is not a harassment case. This is a case about computer fraud. that is the charge being filed.

    The suicide should definitely be considered, in a seperate case where the charges are for harrassment, and possibly something worse. But it should not be a factor in the case for computer fraud.

     

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  17.  
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    jhunter, Nov 17th, 2008 @ 12:35pm

    Re: well

    The suicide would be relevant were she being charged with harassment (it shows the degree to which she was harassed). However, Drew is being charged with COMPUTER FRAUD, to which the suicide holds no relevance.

     

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  18.  
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    Mark K (profile), Nov 17th, 2008 @ 12:38pm

    Re: Roe vs Wade

    "If you are so unfeeling that you could care less that two parents lost a child I hardly feel you should act as a judge in this case."

    Personally, I would say that the unfeeling people make the best judges. They can examine the facts of the case, without allowing the emotional hype to cloud their judgement.

     

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  19.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 17th, 2008 @ 12:40pm

    Go to Hell Lori Drew. They should have charged you with involuntary manslaughter! What you did to this girl was intentional and it lead to her death regardless that the girl was already troubled. You placed the last straw upon her back. Even if it were to happen anyway, she didn't need you to accelerate it.

    Die in a fire for eternity!

     

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  20.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 17th, 2008 @ 12:41pm

    Re: Re: Roe vs Wade

    And where did Mike go to law school?

     

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  21.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 17th, 2008 @ 12:43pm

    If Drew was a child this would be different but as an adult, she is responsible for her actions that lead to the death of this child.

    SHAME ON YOU!

     

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  22.  
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    DanC, Nov 17th, 2008 @ 12:43pm

    Re: well

    Criminal harassment is harassment no matter whether it takes place on the computer, or in person.

    Except she wasn't charged with criminal harassment - she was charged with conspiracy and accessing protected computers without authorization. Proving either one of those charges does not require evidence regarding Meier's suicide.

    or for the coronation of Lori Drew(as apparently Mike is)

    When you make unsubstantiated comments like this, which show that you haven't bothered reading what the person you're accusing has actually written, you look incredibly foolish.

    Only the law says what is valid in this trial, not the preffered outcome of the writers or readers of this site.

    The law is open to interpretation, which is why we have judges. But that doesn't mean that any one judge's interpretation is always correct - that's why we have a tiered court system. This case is stretching contract law to cover Terms of Service on a website in order to punish someone. While the person may deserve to be punished, using such a Machiavellian approach is inherently dangerous, as it sets a bad precedent.

     

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  23.  
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    Killer_Tofu (profile), Nov 17th, 2008 @ 12:49pm

    Re: well

    Re #5
    As another poster basically mentioned, your argument would make a little more sense if Lori Drew was actually being charged with harassment. Except she isn't. She is being charged with computer fraud.

    Based on the precise outcome, this could also have an extremely bad precedent on our ability to use the names we do (our anonimity) online.

    Yah, what she did sucks. However, popular opinion has already insured that she can never live this down. The public shame is enough in my opinion.

     

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  24.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 17th, 2008 @ 12:52pm

    Re: well

    Then charge Lori Drew for criminal harassment. They aren't charging her for those crimes, or weren't. This really is no longer about justice, this is about revenge.

    But let your bloodthirsty urges vent by all means. I'm sure that's just what Megan wanted, for everyone to concentrate on someone else even though she's the one that died.

    Way to miss the entire moral of what happened.

     

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  25.  
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    DanC, Nov 17th, 2008 @ 12:53pm

    Re: The joke is the charges

    And, based on the principle of traditional "human-centric ethics" that the common man "basically knows what's right" (and the principle upon which trial-by-jury is based) she most certainly should be held accountable by whatever means are available to the prosecutors. If it means twisting the law, perhaps that will encourage the legislators to pass better law.

    So twisting the law to meet your own ends is perfectly acceptable as long as you believe you're morally right? I don't think so.

     

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  26.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 17th, 2008 @ 12:56pm

    No matter what the charge, I'm not so sure we can or "should" decouple the consequences of the act from the crime.

    In other cases of computer fraud (totally the wrong choice), are the consequences of the fraud entered into the record?

     

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  27.  
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    AJ, Nov 17th, 2008 @ 12:57pm

    well

    Computer fraud caused her to commit suicide? I think she should be charged with something, but this seems a bit crazy. There had to have been warning signs, where were the parents during all of this? I've heard the rabble that parents can't be there all the time ect..ect.. but if your child was upset enough to kill herself should'nt there have been some kind of sign? If she was that unstable, and that lady took advantage of that I hope she gets what she deserves but lets charge her with something related to the childs death, not make a end run around the law to get jurors emotional enough to convict her for something unrelated to the actual charge.

     

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  28.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 17th, 2008 @ 12:59pm

    Re: Re: Re: Roe vs Wade

    Laws are unique. They are entirely arbitrary. This isn't like physics, or psychology, or computer science. There isn't a right way and a wrong way that is undeniably true.

    Law is a *process* that everyone can get involved in. By your same argument, no one should be allowed to be a representative or senator without being a law.

    But that is not a requirement in the United States. EVERYONE and ANYONE can get involved with law making and studying the law. Otherwise it would be a Constitutional requirement that they study law for X years.

    So AC, where did YOU study law? I'm no lawyer but I sure as hell seem to know more about it than you do.

     

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  29.  
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    Dosquatch, Nov 17th, 2008 @ 1:00pm

    Re: Re: The joke is the charges

    if you have to bastardize the law in order to "encourage the legislators to pass better law" then what good is the law in the first place?

    Certainly enough twisting goes on in the other direction that passes the smell test, or have you never heard of "getting off on a technicality"?

    Again - "The joke is the charges". Certainly there must be something available that is more appropriate. I can't imagine there's not. But then, I'm not a lawyer so I'm probably not the best qualified to speak on the actual mechanics thereof.

    What I can say is that my amateur reckoning says "something wrong was done, somebody ought to be held accountable".

     

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  30.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 17th, 2008 @ 1:01pm

    Re: well

    This comment should have been made by "known idiot" not "known coward". The charge is not "criminal harassment" it's computer fraud in which case some girl copping out on life and killing herself has nothing to do with violating the terms of service on some stupid website. Get your facts strait you tard.

     

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  31.  
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    Dosquatch, Nov 17th, 2008 @ 1:05pm

    Re: Re: The joke is the charges

    "Twist" is semantics, argue the point. "The Law" is a tool. Like any tool, whatever application produces the desired outcome is kosher. You can drive a nail with an adjustable wrench. It might not be what the wrench's designer had in mind, but if the nail is driven, what the hey.

     

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  32.  
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    Dosquatch, Nov 17th, 2008 @ 1:16pm

    Re: Roe vs Wade

    Is it going to easy for the parents to prove that Drews motive was to induce suicide? I would say its going to be almost impossible for a jury to buy that.

    I'm gonna say there's probably no way to prove Drew et. al. were attempting to "induce suicide". In fact, I entirely doubt this. They were trying to emotionally wound this girl. So murder charges? I don't see it.

    And fraud charges seem pretty far-fetched, but I'm not a lawyer, so if the prosecution thinks they have a novel application there, go on with it.

    Personally, I'd think something in the "harrassment" family, probably with the words "Willful Endangerment and Disregard" attached.

     

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  33.  
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    Just to tired., Nov 17th, 2008 @ 1:30pm

    'tard' hehe. Has been a while since I've heard that from someone other than me.
    Well, I just had to drop in here and say my two bits. Well, I say yes, she should be punished. That's great, BUT, I beg the legal system to not 'F' itself up any more than it already has. Both the U.S. and Canada have lost their way. The part that I don't like the most here, is the fact that now computer fraud is murder. So if this goes through, you should expect to be charged with downloading music, but punished for murder when an artist can not handle their life.
    Yes I know it's a ways off, but really? I get frustrated with the 'computer crimes' as they are. After all, to go to jail for hacking into a web site, longer than if you raped someone?! Uhhhh..... time to re evaluate the laws. Of course that is where I get back on topic, messing up the legal system for revenge, just messes it up.

    Just tired of a system that fights itself, more than it fights crime.

     

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  34.  
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    Bill M, Nov 17th, 2008 @ 1:30pm

    No joke here

    I'm not sure what the "bad precedent" is here. This isn't SecondLife where the characters created are assumed to be fantasy. MySpace has a terms of service that was violated.

    http://www.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=misc.terms

    Parts of that terms of service include not using it to harass other members (8.2) and not pretending to be someone you're not (8.14) ... this is just for starters... Who knows if these terms were preceisely the same as they were when the crime was committed, but I'm sure they were substantially the same.

    Now, basically what MySpace is saying is you're authorized to use the service if you follow these rules. If you don't, you're not allowed to use the service. That's where the unauthorized access and fraud business comes in. To my thinking, that's perfectly valid as a legal premise to go forward.

    Finally, let me remind you Capone was caught on the basis of tax evasion, not murder, extortion, etc. I think it's perfectly valid to introduce the suicide as this shows the intent (mental distress) and results of their actions.

     

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  35.  
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    Monarch, Nov 17th, 2008 @ 1:39pm

    Re: The joke is the charges

    The reason that the Computer Fraud charges were brought up, was because the State does not have any type of laws that would prosecute Lori Drew for what happened. It did not fall under any harassment laws, nor any computer laws. It was such a high publicity issue the federal prosecutors could only find the computer fraud law to charge her with.

    Was what happened horrible? Yes!
    Was Lori Drew soley responsible? No! Other children messaged the girl, and it was another child who actually wrote the words which ultimately led to the suicide.
    Is Lori Drew actually guilty of any law written on the books? No!
    Is Lori Drew somewhat despicable? Yes!
    Have other parents spied on their children or their children's friends by creating false MySpace accounts? Probably. Does that make them as despicable as Lori Drew? YES! Why? Because it could be considered stalking or child harassment.

    So, do you want to have the government arrest you for not divulging your true name when you log into a web site? After all that's what this case is all about. I could go to jail if Lori Drew gets convicted and this sets precedent, as I'm not using my real name to post this comment!

     

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  36.  
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    Mike Mixer, Nov 17th, 2008 @ 1:48pm

    The easiest appeal in history

    I cannot begin to imagine her lawyers glee when he heard this decision.I will just bet any third-rate ambulance chaser would already have the appeal written up and ready to go. I think this judge doesn't want to be the guy to say there's no case here so he's setting up the trial exactly how the people want it to teach them a lesson without getting hung out to dry himself.

     

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  37.  
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    Mike (profile), Nov 17th, 2008 @ 1:58pm

    Re: well

    Criminal harassment is harassment no matter whether it takes place on the computer, or in person.

    The charge is about computer fraud. That's the problem that we have. It's not about harassment, as there was no law that covered harassment at the time she was charge.

    That the harrsment lead to suicide is perfectly valid to be allowed in the case.

    Again, it's not a harassment charge.

    Our being for the death of Lori Drew (as I am), or for the coronation of Lori Drew(as apparently Mike is),

    What makes you think I'm for the coronation of Drew? Please.

    My position has to do with the law.

    Only the law says what is valid in this trial, not the preffered outcome of the writers or readers of this site.

    Indeed. And the law is about computer fraud, not harassment. I'm not sure what the suicide has to do with computer fraud, and that's my problem with it.

     

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    Mike (profile), Nov 17th, 2008 @ 2:06pm

    Re: No joke here

    Parts of that terms of service include not using it to harass other members (8.2) and not pretending to be someone you're not (8.14) ... this is just for starters... Who knows if these terms were preceisely the same as they were when the crime was committed, but I'm sure they were substantially the same.

    If we charged people for FELONY computer abuse for not paying attention to online ToS, pretty much everyone would be a criminal. The computer fraud statue was written to deal with computer hacking. Not someone not following the ToS specifically. If MySpace had kicked her off for breaking the terms, that's one thing. Sending her to jail? That's completely out of line.

    Finally, let me remind you Capone was caught on the basis of tax evasion, not murder, extortion, etc. I think it's perfectly valid to introduce the suicide as this shows the intent (mental distress) and results of their actions.

    Do you not realize what a dangerously slippery slope that leads to? Basically, you can now put ANYONE in jail, because somehow, somewhere, they may have violated some terms of service. That's ripe for widespread abuse.

     

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  39.  
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    j, Nov 17th, 2008 @ 2:08pm

    Once again, Techdirt demonstrates idiocy.

     

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  40.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 17th, 2008 @ 2:10pm

    Survey says: BZZZZT Wrong...

    The results of the fraud definitely have bearing on the case.

    If someone causes indirectly causes a fatal accident whilst driving drunk isn't it manslaughter?

    If by an individuals actions through carelessness, negligence or malice indirectly lead to the death of another individual... Manslaughter.

    WTF. Drew's actions caused the resulting suicide.

     

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    CobaltQube, Nov 17th, 2008 @ 2:14pm

    The end of an issue...

    Basically Lori deserves to have the fact that Megan Meier's suicide is included in this defense. She "Lori Drew" knowing did what she did and that fact caused Megan Meier's suicide to happen.. Involuntary MS or Premeditated Murder.. You decide but it should be def down to those 2 ideas. Just my 2 cents.. CobaltQube

     

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  42.  
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    Bill B., Nov 17th, 2008 @ 2:14pm

    Judge

    And why are judges elected officials - who have to consider public opinion in high-profile cases and re-election when making decisions???

     

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  43.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 17th, 2008 @ 2:16pm

    if someone is arrested for DUI and during his escapade he ran over someone else and killed him would the death be relevant to the case or not?

    True the suicide has nothing to do with the computer fraud, but if her "unlawful" use of the computer caused some one to die, then it becomes relevant.

    of course prosecution will have to prove that it was Lori Drew's actions that lead the girl to commit the suicide.

     

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  44.  
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    Dave, Nov 17th, 2008 @ 2:17pm

    I see your point to an extent. The girl might have killed herself anyway. And maybe that one woman shouldn't be prosecuted to that extent, or lynched.

    But it seems to me that the hoaxer does share at least some responsibility for the girl's death. Where do you draw the line?

    If someone berates a child for a longer time, how much time before the berater shares some responsibility for their death? Ten years? Never? Hey, they always get off the hook because the suicide committer always had free will, and the berater always has free speech. Cool!

    Gee, it's nice and convenient for the berater to always cry First Amendment rights. Part of the normal trend of no one accepting responsibility for anything they do, because hey, the abused person chooses to feel abused, it isn't the abuser's fault.

     

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  45.  
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    JMG, Nov 17th, 2008 @ 2:30pm

    Re:

    If someone causes indirectly causes a fatal accident whilst driving drunk isn't it manslaughter?

    Except driving under the influence isn't manslaughter. Computer fraud isn't manslaughter. Manslaughter is manslaughter. She hasn't been charged with manslaughter. You don't penalize someone for manslaughter on a computer fraud charge.

    If by an individuals actions through carelessness, negligence or malice indirectly lead to the death of another individual... Manslaughter.

    Then she should have been charged with manslaughter instead of computer fraud.

     

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  46.  
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    DanC, Nov 17th, 2008 @ 2:31pm

    Re:

    if someone is arrested for DUI and during his escapade he ran over someone else and killed him would the death be relevant to the case or not?

    Typically, those people are charged with manslaughter. For whatever, Lori Drew was not charged in any way with the death of Megan Meier, so your comparison doesn't work.

    True the suicide has nothing to do with the computer fraud, but if her "unlawful" use of the computer caused some one to die, then it becomes relevant.

    Proving the charges against Lori Drew do not require evidence of the suicide. Therefore, it isn't relevant to the case. Instead, it will influence the jury to vote emotionally rather than on what the law says.

     

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  47.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 17th, 2008 @ 2:39pm

    What if?

    If Drew had the coversation with Megan face to face and the girl committed suicide, would/could there be any charges brought up against her?

     

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  48.  
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    JMG, Nov 17th, 2008 @ 2:40pm

    Re: The end of an issue...

    Basically Lori deserves to have the fact that Megan Meier's suicide is included in this defense. She "Lori Drew" knowing did what she did and that fact caused Megan Meier's suicide to happen.. Involuntary MS or Premeditated Murder.. You decide but it should be def down to those 2 ideas. Just my 2 cents.. CobaltQube

    Then she should have been charged with either manslaughter or murder. The charge deals with unauthorized access. The death of Megan is not needed to prove whether or not Lori is guilty of computer fraud.

     

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  49.  
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    Erv Server, Nov 17th, 2008 @ 2:44pm

    responsibility

    To prove fraud someone must have been damaged, the suicide should be brought into the case. The deceased was a victim of fraud.

     

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  50.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 17th, 2008 @ 2:45pm

    Re:

    to everyone using drunk drivers:

    It would not be relevant to the DUI charge, the drinking + driving would be.

    however the manslaughter charge that they would get for the incident would include any injuries/death caused by the drunk driving.

    it is possible for a driver to be charged as a drunk driver and with manslaughter to be found guilty of manslaughter but innocent of driving while intoxicated. two separate charges, two separate outcomes.

    this case should be no different, charge her with harassment and/or manslaughter and then include the suicide as evidence, but don't use computer fraud to set a precedence that makes the majority of internet users guilty of a federal crime.

    to draw the implications that this trail could have, imagine this: Joe User signs up to Pictures.com, they state int he terms of service that you can post pictures of yourself in a swimsuit. Joe then uploads a bunch of pictures of him in a speedo and forgets about the site. months later the site changes their terms of service to say that users are not allowed to post pictures of people in speedos (maybe the site owner got sick of seeing lots of fat people in them), well Joe didn't know this, and even if he did, the instant the EULA of the website is changed he could be thrown in prison for up to ten (10) years.

    depending on how this case is interpreted 90% of the people posting in this topic could also be thrown in jail for not user their real name. if Ms. Drew is found guilty I suggest everyone switch to Freenet in order to preserve your freedom.

     

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  51.  
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    DanC, Nov 17th, 2008 @ 2:47pm

    Re: Re: Re: The joke is the charges

    You can drive a nail with an adjustable wrench. It might not be what the wrench's designer had in mind, but if the nail is driven, what the hey.

    Of course, to follow your example, using the law in such a way can and often does create unintended and harmful consequences. A Machiavellian attitude towards the law is inherently dangerous, and rarely beneficial.

     

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  52.  
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    Barta, Nov 17th, 2008 @ 2:48pm

    Re: Re: Legally, You're Right

    You just made my day... Oh how sweet the irony.

     

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  53.  
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    Fushta, Nov 17th, 2008 @ 2:58pm

    Re: Legally, You're Right

    Megan would've killed herself anyway, whether it was this or something else. If she was inclined to end her life, it would've been some other cause eventually.

    I'm sure Lori Drew feels bad about what happened, and if she knew the kid was unstable (to the point of killing herself), I'm sure she would've not done it.

     

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  54.  
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    Fushta, Nov 17th, 2008 @ 3:01pm

    Re: Re: well

    Well said, Mike.

    I said this in your last blog about the judge first deciding not to include the suicide in the trial: If Megan was still alive, there would be no trial.

     

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  55.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 17th, 2008 @ 3:03pm

    Re: Roe vs Wade

    Nice trolling job, but mentioning Roe vs Wade made it obvious trolling job. Roe vs Wade has not been overturned and will likely continue to not be overturned, so your argument that it could be overturned is clearly undercutting yourself ironically. This makes you stylistically similar to NEOCON whatever the rest of the overly long name was.

    But, honestly this is the best done troll job I have seen in a long time, and I honestly have to applaud you for it! And everyone's going to think I'm sarcastic... but it's true, this is a good use of subtlety in trolling

     

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  56.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 17th, 2008 @ 3:07pm

    Good

    Good for this judge - now maybe there will be justice.

    This woman should rot in jail for a very long time

     

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  57.  
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    Greek philosopher, Nov 17th, 2008 @ 3:10pm

    Re: Stephen Finch

    Yes, I support Mike. Law is not and should not be about revenge.

     

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  58.  
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    j, Nov 17th, 2008 @ 3:12pm

    I said, once again, Techdirt demonstrates idiocy.

     

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  59.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 17th, 2008 @ 3:30pm

    Re:

    care to back up your statements with some substance? thankfully in this world "you are an idiot" does not constitute a valid argument. if it did an argument would go something along the lines of "the earth is round I tell you, I have proof!" to which the opposition would say "You're stupid!" and everyone would still believe in a flat earth.

    so, please enlighten everyone as to how techdirt is demonstrating idiocy.

     

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  60.  
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    Pitabred, Nov 17th, 2008 @ 3:35pm

    Re: Roe vs Wade

    Most of what I have issue with is that there are public funds being used to bring a farcical criminal trial.

    It's very sad that a young girl took her own life. But there are no laws against being a jackass. That girl's family and friends failed her, not the system, not myspace, and not Lori Drew. They failed to prepare that girl for a world where not everyone is always nice, or always what they seem, but they apparently prepared her well enough to know how to kill herself.

    This whole thing is scapegoating, trying to blame someone other than the girl for a very bad decision. It's our culture any more... "It can't be my fault! It HAS to be someone else's!"

     

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  61.  
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    abba12, Nov 17th, 2008 @ 3:48pm

    I simply don't understand why she isn't under manslaughter charges. The suicide was a direct result from the harassment, not indirect, we know it was the cause.

    But in the intrests of law I agree, they should not be bringing the suicide up here, they should be bringing it up in another trial for manslaughter.

     

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  62.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 17th, 2008 @ 7:23pm

    Re:

    So if I tell you to eff off, and you actually go do so, am I suddenly a rapist?

     

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  63.  
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    Random Lawyer With A False Name, Nov 17th, 2008 @ 9:02pm

    Re: The joke is the charges

    Monarch wrote in comment #35, Nov 17th, 2008 @ 1:39pm:
    So, do you want to have the government arrest you for not divulging your true name when you log into a web site? After all that's what this case is all about. I could go to jail if Lori Drew gets convicted and this sets precedent, as I'm not using my real name to post this comment!
    If you read the complaint, and the motions, you will find that Monarch has described exactly what is at stake. The government is prosecuting Lori Drew for unauthorized access to a protected computer with intent to commit a tort or crime by that access.

    The statutes forbidding unauthorized access to protected computers were intended to prosecute people who broke into non-public computers, or non-public portions of computers to which they had no legitimate access, by cracking passwords or other such means. The laws were not intended to be used against people who simply give false names when registering at a website and made nasty comments. Unfortunately the laws were sloppily drafted.

    If this prosecution is upheld on appeal, anybody who even just arguably violates some provider's TOS after registering under a false name could face felony prosecution. Maybe you trust that no prosecutor would ever do that for something as trivial as calling someone a poopyhead, or criticizing a product that a forum provider's TOS forbids criticizing. Then let's hope you like surprises. You'll get plenty once a legal precedent is established.

    Up to date reporting on the case, and the legal briefs can be found here.

     

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  64.  
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    Monarch, Nov 18th, 2008 @ 5:13am

    Re: The end of an issue...

    CobaltQube's response is exactly why there are laws and lawyers.
    First off, Lori Drew is not the one who wrote or said the things that lead to the suicide, it was a teenage friend of the girl who said and wrote the words that lead to the suicide!
    Do any of the idiots who post to hang this lady check facts?

    Get off the vigilante justice bandwagon and read up on the case!

    Basically ask yourself, if you had a child that was being abused by another child, and the other child's parents didn't care what their daughter was doing, what would you do? Figure out a way to spy on the kid picking on your kid? Yeah, you would, exactly what Lori Drew did. Unfortunately, she recruited other teenage friends of her daughter's to help her do it. Guess what? Those teenage friends were the ones who did the real damage that lead to the suicide.

    Now also, in most states, and federal law, there are no laws that could convict a person for any crime that leads to suicide. As it should be! Someone saying something that may cause another to commit suicide is NOT even in the same ballpark as manslaughter, NOT even in the same zip code as manslaughter. as it should be!

    Kids commit suicide all the time. I've had a couple friends who committed suicide. Had I been a better friend, I may have seen the signs and helped to prevent it. Had the girls parents been more involved in their daughters life, they may have seen the signs and helped to prevent it. Either way, the only blame is to go to the person who committed suicide! It is NOT anyone else's fault! Lori Drew did not cause that girl to commit suicide, the girl caused her own death. The imaginary boyfriend was just the catalyst that pushed the girl over the edge, but she was already on the edge ready to take her own life.

    You vigilante idiots that are willing to bastardize the law need to take a critical thinking course.

     

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  65.  
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    Willton, Nov 18th, 2008 @ 5:15am

    Re: Judge

    And why are judges elected officials - who have to consider public opinion in high-profile cases and re-election when making decisions???

    This case is going to federal court; hence, it's in front of an appointed, life-tenured, Article III federal judge. Your concern here has no merit.

     

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  66.  
    icon
    Killer_Tofu (profile), Nov 18th, 2008 @ 6:12am

    Re:

    Re: Dave

    They have retraining orders for that.
    And harassment laws.

     

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  67.  
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    Dosquatch, Nov 18th, 2008 @ 7:03am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: The joke is the charges

    But when the wrench breaks because you're using it wrong, you're presented with an opportunity to purchase a new and better wrench... and probably a hammer so you don't repeat the "mistake". Y'know, just to push the analogy back to where I started.

     

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  68.  
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    Ed, Nov 18th, 2008 @ 7:03am

    The comments here prove Mikes point.

    The comments here prove Mikes point. Most people here are so anxious to hang somebody for this kids death, they are not interested in who did what, or why. The events have been IMHO accurately portrayed by Monarch. Should a pick pocket be charged with murder, because the guy whose wallet he stole, knocked his wife down the stairs that night? What if the friend you pick up one more round for from the bar, is just over the limit, when he strikes another car, and that driver dies. Remember the "glass house" you might just be living in.

     

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  69.  
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    Dosquatch, Nov 18th, 2008 @ 7:13am

    Re: Re: No joke here

    Mike wrote:Do you not realize what a dangerously slippery slope that leads to? Basically, you can now put ANYONE in jail, because somehow, somewhere, they may have violated some terms of service. That's ripe for widespread abuse.

    I just don't see the mad lemming rush over this cliff. I don't think this is going to trigger Felony Douche TOSser charges raining down on us. I don't think you really believe that, either. You say slippery slope. I'll give you the slope, but for it to be slippery you have to convince me that, outside of this case, juries would be willing to swallow that load. I just don't see it.

    This is a public stoning in search of stones. The prosecutors think the rock with "Fraud" written on it will fly. I'm alright with that.

     

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  70.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 18th, 2008 @ 8:00am

    Re: Re: Re: No joke here

    It is a shame how uncivilized we have become; that our court systems are no longer for upholding justice but instead are for supporting the lynch mobs. I'm ashamed that the laws are being abused in such a fashion and at how many people are unable to see past a blind rage. Ms. Drew deserves a fair trail in the courts, and instead she is receiving a mockery of the justice system while everyone is waiting with the gallows set up to lynch either Ms. Drew or the Judge (and then Ms. Drew)

    Why are people acting like this? Why are people so willing to do the same acts that history has taught us to revile? What happened to the Law being blind and impartial? What happened to innocent until proven otherwise? What happened to caring about actual justice, not just revenge?

    it makes me sick and ashamed that the country I live in created such people.

     

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  71.  
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    known coward, Nov 18th, 2008 @ 8:08am

    Re: Re: well

    Actually i have read what mike writes on the site, and i am aware of his comments on the case. Yes I know Mike is not for lori drew's corronation. For one thing since Nacny Reagan we have not had a corronation in this country. Nor am I really for burning lori at the stake. (although 7 years hard time would be OK with me).

    My point is that it appears from the writing Mike is basing his wish for the sucide being excluded upon his dislike of the case, not for what for the law requires.

    And for the record I am not sure why this is computer fraud either, unless that is how they charge misrepresentation in that state, A real lawyer would be better able to provide an answer than I am.

    = ========== =========== =

    . . . " When you make unsubstantiated comments like this, which show that you haven't bothered reading what the person you're accusing has actually written, you look incredibly foolish. . . . "

     

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  72.  
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    Known coward, Nov 18th, 2008 @ 8:25am

    re 71 well

    This site needs an edit key.

    Please pardon my abuse of the english language in the prior post, and probably in this post.

    The one thing I do wish to add (and a prior poster mentioned it) If the charge is computer fraud it is reasonable to bring in the result of that fraud to the courts attention. In this case the suicide is a result of the fraudulent action committed by Ms. Drew.

    As yet another poster mentioned, intent to harm, or depraved indifference would probably be where I would be looking in the chargeable jargon for Ms. Drew. I guess creating the fraud of a boyfriend, and that fake boyfriend’s actions, are where the prosecutors are going.

     

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  73.  
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    DanC, Nov 18th, 2008 @ 8:27am

    Re: Re: Re: No joke here

    I'll give you the slope, but for it to be slippery you have to convince me that, outside of this case, juries would be willing to swallow that load. I just don't see it.

    Yes, you want a one-time lynch mob exception to the proper interpretation of the law in order to punish someone. The problem with making exceptions, however, is that you have to justify why they shouldn't apply in other cases. I find it hard to believe that if Drew is found guilty that more cases based on violating Terms of Service won't make their way into the courts.

    The county court couldn't find a crime to accuse Drew with, and despite the emotional responses of many, that's the correct call. Either charge her with a crime she did commit, or don't.

    This is a public stoning in search of stones. The prosecutors think the rock with "Fraud" written on it will fly. I'm alright with that.

    And I'm not alright with manipulating the legal system over the emotional responses of those engaging in the stoning who fail to consider the repercussions of their actions.

     

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  74.  
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    Dosquatch, Nov 18th, 2008 @ 8:28am

    To all here saying "miscarriage of justice"

    I understand that the actions that are being decried seem incongruous with the nature of the Fraud charge. In a less ... "emotionally charged" context, I believe this is usually given the charitable title "novel argument", even by Mike. Nobody has been convicted of anything yet. Right now it's still in the stages of "Good God, what do we even have available to charge her with?"

    She did wrong. She should be held accountable.

    If you feel she did not do wrong, please express on what grounds you feel she is being treated unfairly:

    • Emotional abuse is still abuse
    • Abuse is harmful to others
    • Abuse is not the same as being an ass - if you're an ass then you're an ass, but if you are specifically causing pain or discomfort to another person that is abuse, perhaps torture
    • Harming others is generally considered "wrong"
    • "Wrong" is generally considered "punishable"

    I don't think anybody is really in disagreement to this point. Where the paths seem to diverge is right here - now we need a tool with which to punish her. You say "miscarriage". I say "novel argument".

    It seems there's not a law directly on point, but the clause in the Fraud statute was violated in commiting the abuse. As a related, integral, "bad act", I do not mind its punishment being stretched.

    This is NOT miscarriage of justice. Letting her go completely free after tormenting another person to death would be.

    The slippery slope isn't the argument. The slippery slope is the free pass to torture the funny-looking kid.

     

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  75.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 18th, 2008 @ 8:29am

    Re: Re: Re: well

    My point is that it appears from the writing Mike is basing his wish for the sucide being excluded upon his dislike of the case, not for what for the law requires.

    I disagree. whether or not a suicide happens isn't evidence for or against computer fraud.

    think of it like breaking and entering:

    if a burglar breaks into a house that is illegal, whether or not he did anything else.

    if he broke in and then left without touching anything but someone else came and shot the owner, the owner's death wouldn't be part of the B&E charge.

    if however the burglar broke in and stole something or killed the owner he or she would be facing addition charges besides the B&E. but the stolen items or facts pertaining to the death of the owner are still immaterial on whether or not he is guilty of B&E. maybe he was invited in and then killed and looted the place.

     

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  76.  
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    Dosquatch, Nov 18th, 2008 @ 8:43am

    Re: Re: The end of an issue...

    First off, Lori Drew is not the one who wrote or said the things that lead to the suicide, it was a teenage friend of the girl who said and wrote the words that lead to the suicide! Do any of the idiots who post to hang this lady check facts?

    Participating party. See also: "I didn't pull the trigger, I just drove the getaway car."

    just the catalyst that pushed the girl over the edge

    Ah. That makes it alright then, doesn't it?

    You vigilante idiots that are willing to bastardize the law need to take a critical thinking course.

    Indeed.

    All those so quick to dismiss this should read up on the importance and the real damage of abusive behavior.

     

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  77.  
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    Dosquatch, Nov 18th, 2008 @ 8:57am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: No joke here

    The problem with making exceptions, however, is that you have to justify why they shouldn't apply in other cases.

    (pith) "My client did not fraud anyone to death, your honor." (/pith)

    "I'll give you slope," in the sense that the entire legal system is on a sliding scale. Every case ever brought before a judge is decided based on how damaging to society, ultimately, the defendant's actions are in relation to the charges and arguments. It is why sentencing guidelines are written as ranges rather than absolutes. It is why a person's criminal history can be considered (in some cases). It is why "Three Strikes" laws have been passed in some places.

    This is not the first, nor the last, novel argument made in a court. Nobody has been convicted yet, of anything at all. This is still... an argument.

    If the judge finds the argument specious, it will be tossed out. And I'll be fine with that.

    But in the meantime, Drew did wrong. The prosecutor is making an effort. I am supportive of that effort.

     

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  78.  
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    Dosquatch, Nov 18th, 2008 @ 9:02am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: No joke here

    It is a shame how uncivilized we have become; that our court systems are no longer for upholding justice but instead are for supporting the lynch mobs.

    You understand that I'm using "stoning" in a figurative sense, right? I see a prosecutor making an effort to prosecute in light of a very bad situation resulting from very bad actions.

    Yes, there are people who are angry about those actions. But I do not see anybody with pitchforks, ropes, or torches. This is not the mob you're looking for. Being so pointedly dismissive of that anger, and about the cause of that anger, is, well...

    it makes me sick and ashamed that the country I live in created such people.

    Yup, kinda somewhere in there.

     

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  79.  
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    bill a, Nov 18th, 2008 @ 9:44am

    Re: No joke here

    1. Not a lawyer.....2. Have some common sense
    TOS - We will grant that a violation occurred (really on both (Lori & Megan). Per your quote the consequence is...."you're not allowed to use the service" So when apprised of the violation MYSPACE would be justified to suspend or cancel the membership of either or both. But the overwhelming evidence that I have seen is that contrary to what many of you believe there is and should be significant blame on Megan's parents. They ALLOWED this unstable and vunerable 13 YEAR OLD to establish an ongoing cyber relationship with someone they thought to be at least a 16 year old male. Instead of a 40 something mom of a former friend it could have been the 50 year old pedophile trolling for his next victim. And for that many of you allow the parents to skate? Sorry, no sale here. They carry a far bigger burden than should Lori Drew.

     

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  80.  
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    bill a, Nov 18th, 2008 @ 9:57am

    MISSING THE POINT

    I have read and reread. I don't see enough of you, no matter which side of the legal arguments you appear to be on, joining in the argument that the bulk of the fault here lies with parents who did not do enough (if anything) to properly protect a fragile, vunerable 13 year old child. Underlying crimes, cause and effect, some of you shout? CRIME ONE - Megan's parent(s) permitted if not encouraged her to violate the terms of service for MYSPACE and become a member with a profile. Had they not done that then Ms. Drew could not have created "Josh" with her employees help to engage in any harassing behavior. Smoke that one for a while. Any observations from the lawyers among you? Thanks

     

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  81.  
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    BTR1701, Nov 18th, 2008 @ 12:06pm

    Re: Roe vs Wade

    > The parents are throwing whatever charges
    > they can at Drew and hope they stick.

    No, they're not. The prosecutors are doing that. Only the state can charge a person with a crime. Individual citizens cannot.

    One of the reason for that is so that we don't get situations like this-- where charges are being brought based on revenage rather than law. Prosecutors are supposed to be professional and dispassionate.

     

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  82.  
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    BTR1701, Nov 18th, 2008 @ 12:12pm

    Re: Re: Re: Roe vs Wade

    > And where did Mike go to law school?

    *I* went to law school and Mike is right. This rulinig is idiotic and makes fertile grounds for appeal/reversible error should Drew lose the case.

     

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  83.  
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    DanC, Nov 18th, 2008 @ 2:55pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: No joke here

    (pith) "My client did not fraud anyone to death, your honor." (/pith)

    Sorry, but that wouldn't be a viable excuse - in actuality, due to some of the vague language in the law, anyone claiming mental anguish could bring suit.

    But in the meantime, Drew did wrong. The prosecutor is making an effort. I am supportive of that effort.

    I would support it if she were charged with a crime that actually fits with what occurred. As I said, the "by any means necessary" approach you seem to be supporting is dangerous and wrong. Unfortunately, one of the drawbacks to our legal system is the fact that not everything that may be considered an offense is covered by law. The solution is to draft new legislation to prevent it from happening again.

    But with emotional cases such as this, rational thought goes out the door for many, and they concentrate on revenge. This is exactly why the judge's original ruling was the correct one - the suicide evidence is not necessary to prove the charges against Drew and will only serve to emotionally influence the jury.

     

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  84.  
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    Felcia Combine, Nov 21st, 2008 @ 5:35am

    Drew Case

    Who the fuck are you and what makes you think you know anything about justice and our legal system? You are an incredible dumb ass if you don't think the cyber-bullying and suicide aren't connected. Shut the fuck up! The world would truly be a better place with out your kind!

     

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  85.  
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    JMG, Nov 21st, 2008 @ 8:51am

    Re: Drew Case

    You are an incredible dumb ass if you don't think the cyber-bullying and suicide aren't connected. Shut the fuck up! The world would truly be a better place with out your kind!

    Absolutely hilarious! Great satire there. Love how you were able to so convincingly accomplish the exact same thing Lori Drew did. Bravo, sir or madam. Bravo!

     

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  86.  
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    mother from PA, Nov 25th, 2008 @ 5:58am

    Re: Re: Drew Case

    Do you think that anyone's suicide is a joke??? Do you think bullying is a joke??? My son has been bullied for the last 4 years of his life at school. He has finally stood up to these little cowards and kicked some ass. Do you realize what constant bullying does to the human psyche..to self confidence??? That is what I thought. If you have never been in someone's shoes like that...don't comment about it. People like Lori Drew are stellar human beings...and you my friend are in the same genus..phyllum..kingdom.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  87.  
    identicon
    psych nurse from PA, Nov 25th, 2008 @ 6:11am

    Re: well

    AJ...sure there are many signs preceeding a suicide..but I must tell you..most people that take their life do not appear deeply depressed...most deeply depressed people usually have no strength to take their own life..it is when they appear to be "feeling better"...and some can pretend to be "happy" when truly they are dying inside. No one knows what goes through a person's mind...unless you have been there yourself. Bullying someone is criminal..it wears on the human psyche. Blaming parents? No..not always. Parenting is the worlds hardest career. Unless you can keep your child in a bubble...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  88.  
    identicon
    psych nurse and parent, Nov 25th, 2008 @ 6:35am

    Re: Re: The end of an issue...

    Hey stupid...get off the soapbox...First let me ask you...did all of your friends commit suicide??? I can't imagine why..your such a good friend! Unless you are parent..a medical professional or a teenager who is hurting..shut up. Shame on you..it is always the parents fault??? Suicide is a serious problem. "Kids commit suicide all the time"...what rock did you crawl out from under anyway? Bullying is criminal..it is harrassment. Lori Drew should not have been breeding children..She should however...be made..instead of jail time, ect...to go to that child's grave every single day for the rest of her life and stand there with her daughter and her daughter's little "posse" and tell this dead child how sorry they are..then they should be made to make a donation of $1 a day to a suicide prevention center...which includes writing a check..licking the envelope and placing a stamp...daily for the rest of their lives. And as for you...you need to stand right beside them.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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