Missouri Prosecutors Going Overboard In Bringing Cyberbullying Cases

from the shiny-new-tool dept

While Lori Drew was eventually convicted under computer hacking laws, originally prosecutors in Missouri refused to charge her, noting that it was pretty clear she had not broken any laws in Missouri. Not surprisingly, the emotionally-tinged case meant that politicians had to rush into the void, hastily passing a law to make it illegal to be a jerk online. Of course, prosecutors couldn't go back and retroactively charge Drew, but they apparently haven't wasted much time in making use of the new law, charging at least seven people under the new law for a variety of "cyber" harassment attacks, mostly involving annoying someone with text messages. Of course, as some are noting this is a waste of taxpayer money, burdening the court system with annoyances that should be settled informally among people. Have we really reached a point in society that people have to run to court every time someone acts like a jerk towards them?


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  1.  
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    james (profile), Dec 22nd, 2008 @ 9:41am

    combining...

    Could we possibly extrapolate the laws here a little and have it set up that the mafiAA will get charged with cyberbullying? That way at least one of the two will go down in flames.

     

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  2.  
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    :Lobo Santo, Dec 22nd, 2008 @ 9:41am

    New Laws...

    Maybe the lĂ­deres in DC should pass a law requiring a "fair, balanced, efficient, cost-effect, and timely" court system be in place before the idiotas in the gov can make NEW laws...

    In fact, let's send a message to el Presidente Obama asking for exactly that!

     

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  3.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 22nd, 2008 @ 9:44am

    Nice

    Of course, as some are noting this is a waste of taxpayer money, burdening the court system with annoyances that should be settled informally among people.

    If people were able to solve their problems informally then we would have no need for civil court.

     

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  4.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 22nd, 2008 @ 9:50am

    " . . . Not surprisingly, the emotionally-tinged case meant that politicians had to rush into the void, hastily passing a law to make it illegal to be a jerk "

    yeah, democracy rules!

     

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  5.  
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    TomTheToe, Dec 22nd, 2008 @ 9:50am

    RE:Nice

    "Missouri lawmakers drafted legislation to outlaw threats or harassing communication that causes emotional distress".
    If it was just Civil Court (person to person),ok. But Mo. is making it Criminal (State vs Person).

     

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  6.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 22nd, 2008 @ 10:22am

    Re: RE:Nice

    No, his quote:
    Of course, as some are noting this is a waste of taxpayer money, burdening the court system with annoyances that should be settled informally among people.
    Indicates that he believes all courts would be a waste of taxpayer dollars.

     

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  7.  
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    Pjerky, Dec 22nd, 2008 @ 10:23am

    This is funny in a way...

    I find this kinda funny and sad at the same time. I grew up in a Missouri school district and I find it funny that they will do their damndest (at least in the district I was in) to avoid really punishing bullies, especially when the victim tried to defend themselves (which usually ended up in the victim being punished and receiving more punishment than the bully).

    Yet they are going out of their way to punish bullies online. This wouldn't have even come to pass had it not been for such a highly publicized case. They don't really care about bullies because the politicians probably were bullies at one time. They just care about keeping constituents voting for them.

    If they really cared about bullying they would impose actual punishments and consequences for those that physically bully students in school. Ah, but that is way too much to ask for.

     

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  8.  
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    Benjamin Wright, Dec 22nd, 2008 @ 11:16am

    school liability? lawsuit?

    As anti-harassment laws are revised to cover cyberbullying, schools and other institutions face the potential for lawsuits. --Ben

     

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  9.  
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    A. L. Flanagan, Dec 22nd, 2008 @ 11:31am

    Hidden Agenda?

    Any chance the prosecutors are launching all these cases to demonstrate how dumb the law is, and get it killed quickly? Or is that giving them too much credit?

     

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  10.  
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    Grem135, Dec 22nd, 2008 @ 11:54am

    Re: Hidden Agenda?

    Waaaay to much credit.. they just want more of what everyone else is short of.... Money$$$$$

     

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  11.  
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    MIchael, Dec 22nd, 2008 @ 11:57am

    Up it puppet!

    All right Missouri hand over your lunch money NOW you punks! Seriously, are you folk not worried that now that you have outed yourselves as a state full of pansies, we might just go to Missouri for easy muggings? Lawyers = leaches. People who rely on Lawyers to settle arguements = whiny pansies. You do know you'll NEVER be able to repeal ANY of these laws right?

     

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  12.  
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    Tony, Dec 22nd, 2008 @ 1:48pm

    Going overboard on cyberbullying laws misses the point

    I agree that the MO law was put out as a reactive measure and hasn't done any good. Just like anything, just because there's a law out there doesn't make it effective. I applaud the idea and perhaps intent behind it, but real solutions need to be found, as cyberbullying is serious business, it just needs to be treated with some thought behind it.

     

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  13.  
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    ehrichweiss, Dec 22nd, 2008 @ 1:52pm

    yes...

    Yes!! Yes, we have reached a point where everyone has to run to a courtroom to settle these things if for no other reason than that we don't settle things like men any longer.

    It's already been pointed out but if you defend yourself against a bully, you get punished. This is regardless as to whether you're 5 or 55. And bullies have NO problem using the law against you either. Pull a knife/gun on one because they're bigger or outnumber you, they'll waste no time to report you for assault.

    Besides, THERE ARE ALREADY LAWS FOR THIS ON THE FEDERAL LEVEL!!! Harassment via electronic wire is a federal felony, IIRC.

     

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  14.  
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    RD, Dec 22nd, 2008 @ 3:15pm

    Just wait, it will get worse

    "Have we really reached a point in society that people have to run to court every time someone acts like a jerk towards them?"

    The short answer is "yes" but that isnt even the real issue. The real issue how everything is actionable these days. Thanks to the overbearing, illegal and greedy actions of people like the RIAA, patent abusers, and people like Prince suing over fair use issues, the general public is slowly coming to view everything as being somehow "owned" and in need of protection or legal defense. This includes not just the obvious like inventions and creative works, but is slowly extending to ANY thing, be it an idea or opinion, viewpoint or preference. Along with this perception of "ownership" comes the idea that you have to use the legal system to "protect" it. Things that used to be settled between people, or just someone walking away, now has to be rammed through a court for remedy. Soon you wont be able to choose things like your sexual preference, since (for instance) choosing to be hetro would, by definition, make you intolerant to non-hetros and therefore you must be prosecuted for "hate crimes." Dont think this kind of thing wont happen? Re-read this article and the Lori Drew case, and then realize that the only things infinite in this universe is God and human stupidity, and we can only be certain of the latter as existing in fact.

     

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  15.  
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    JustMe, Dec 23rd, 2008 @ 8:06am

    Yes

    We have

     

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  16.  
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    Willmat, Dec 23rd, 2008 @ 8:13am

    Media Madness

    There is an secret lottery and your do not want to win it. I call it media madness. The winner is the loser when a story about the winner is picked by the media as front page fodder. Then will they drag the story back and forth through their feces pile and destroy the winner's good name even if they are innocent. Consider the late Richard Jewel, the Ramsey's and the three Duke Students who were defamed by our judicial system and the press. That list is just the tip of the iceberg. Those victims later receive an apology from prosecutors. How do they get back their good name. Most of the cable news shows are fraudulent. They claim to be news shows but are actually speculation shows, where expert guests speculate about a story they have no knowledge about. The United States and State Governments should pass laws as they have in Great Brittan restricting what is presented as news. Speculation by the press about a civil or criminal case should be outlawed. Anyone citing freedom of speech must consider it is illegal to scream fire in a crowded theater when there is actually no fire.

     

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  17.  
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    DanC, Dec 23rd, 2008 @ 10:20am

    Re: Re: RE:Nice

    Indicates that he believes all courts would be a waste of taxpayer dollars.

    Except that's not what it indicates at all. In the broadest sense, it simply means that we don't need a bunch of "someone called me a name on the internet" lawsuits that could easily be dealt with outside of the legal system.

     

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  18.  
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    MO IP, Dec 23rd, 2008 @ 2:09pm

    Another reason

    ... why MO sucks. This place is the sewer of the Midwest.

     

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  19.  
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    KenS, Dec 29th, 2008 @ 5:48am

    Oh wait - I have an idea...

    How about parents just take back control of their house and show a little backbone when it comes to authority. that's where we come in... for this week we are giving away our monitoring software. Read about it here http://blog.pcpandora.com/2008/12/23/pandora-corp-announces-pc-pandora-free-holiday-giveaway/ ... Free monitoring software to help parents keep their kids safe online. No joke... we've already given away about 10,000 copies, but there is plenty left.

     

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  20.  
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    pab marq, Oct 29th, 2009 @ 4:14pm

    Continued Missouri Prosecutor's Duress...

    Being a jerk in Missouri is OK I guess and exposing those that are us whats needed. As a Minority, I am shut out in finding an Attorney here, if this is how they work, I'm sure the Judge will certainly protect his rouges. I am located in Kansas City, Missouri. For 3 years we have had a nightmare with Michael Huffman, Jackson Cty.Prosecuting Attorney 816-881-3555, fax 816-881-4526, with a lawsuit by the MO State Revenue, he messed up. We were paying but he decided to ask for ALL the money up front and garnished,levied our salary and bank accounts at 100% leaving us with zero income, no health insurance and has repeated this for 3 years. He is treating us as criminals and at the rate of rich criminals. We are under financial hardship and I am unemployed. He yelled at us at the Courthouse after 3 years of his unanswered letters and faxes, his superiors have allowed this to continue, video survelillance of the incidense should attest. After this he yelled he would seek jail-time and the maximum this after taking ALL our money. We waited and did not get anything from him so we sent in $200 of the $3000 owed. He just sent us a revised of a revised of a revised bill from $3400 now we owe $2200 without the $200 already sent in. Is anyone seeing this? He also sent us a Trial date of 12/1, and we need a Civil Rights Attorney right away. 8166828661.

     

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  21.  
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    Cynthia Silkey, Nov 2nd, 2012 @ 7:16pm

    cyberbullying

    My family has become victims of cyberbullies in Missouri and believe me, it is very distressful! I'm glad they have this law and I am in the process of doing whatever I can to stop our cyberbullies. Something has to hold them accountable if they are going to be idiots and write terrible, untrue comments about people. If it were you going through what our family is going through, you would be glad there is a law.

     

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