Court Teaches Cook County Sheriff About Section 230, Dismisses Case Against Craigslist

from the but,-boy-those-headlines... dept

Earlier this year, we noted that Cook County (Illinois) sheriff Thomas Dart appeared to be totally unfamiliar with the law when he sued Craigslist for prostitution. As was pretty clear at the time, Craigslist is the service provider and is quite obviously protected by Section 230 immunity. Besides, law enforcement officials who actually care about dealing with prostitution, rather than just generating headlines have figured out that it makes sense to use Craigslist as a tool to help track and combat prostitution.

Even after all of this was clearly explained to Sheriff Dart, he still insisted that his lawsuit made sense. It looks like the court system, however, does not agree. As expected, the case has been dismissed on Section 230 grounds. The decision (pdf) goes through a lengthy discussion on various cases on Section 230, but concludes reasonably:
Sheriff Dart may continue to use Craigslist's website to identify and pursue individuals who post allegedly unlawful content... But he cannot sue Craigslist for their conduct.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

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    Dark Helmet (profile), Oct 21st, 2009 @ 2:11pm

    Sigh

    As a tax paying citizen of Cook County, it'd be nice if this monstrous waste of time, funds, and air were simply done away with.

    Thomas Dart...Dudley Do Right w/a shitty attitude...how Chicago of him.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 21st, 2009 @ 2:18pm

    Maybe someone should offer to sell (via Craigslist, of course) this sheriff a brain.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 21st, 2009 @ 2:26pm

    All it means in the end is that there will be huge pressure to repeal certain provisions of 230 to narrow the focus, so that companies like CL can be held liable for their content.

     

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    Gary, Oct 21st, 2009 @ 2:54pm

    I bexpect the sheriff knows perfectly well that nothing he can do will have any effect on prostitution. There's been prostitution since the invention of sexual reproduction in the primordial slime 4.5 billion years ago, long before there were humans.

    He just wants to do what the cops always want to do---make it better hidden so that the the good Christian folk who bitch a him won't see it.

     

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      TheStupidOne, Oct 21st, 2009 @ 3:04pm

      Re:

      Now that you mention this ... don't some animals essentially trade gifts for the opportunity to reproduce? In particular I'm thinking of primates, but I'm sure there are others I'm not aware of. The male brings food for the female and then gets to try to impregnate her. I've seen it happen many times, often with special drinks that she couldn't just get from the river. Or sometimes even with things that shine and sparkle. Even in some of the monogamous species the male just provides for the female while the female raises the young. Then if the male can no longer provide the female will often leave for another, better, male.

      I just wonder how we humans got beyond all that.

       

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        Luci, Oct 21st, 2009 @ 6:24pm

        Re: Re:

        We didn't. It's called 'dinner and a movie,' or 'dating.' In some extreme cases it's a 'wedding band.'

         

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        Kevin, Oct 21st, 2009 @ 7:24pm

        Re: Re:

        Now that you mention this ... don't some animals essentially trade gifts for the opportunity to reproduce?

        Yes, pretty much all of them do, including humans. Males typically desire sex partners who appear healthy and fertile, and are capable of producing healthy offspring. Females typically desire sex partners who appear healthy and have the resources to provide for the raising and defense of their offspring. Females trade access to sex in exchange for resources and security. In most species we call it pair-bonding, in humans it's usually called marriage, but in the end it's the same thing. Prostitution is just a codified business arrangement where a female is willing to provide short-term access to sex in exchange for a much smaller resource commitment from the male.

         

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          Anonymous Coward, Oct 23rd, 2009 @ 8:26am

          Re: Re: Re:

          ... minus the offspring, and the 'Holy approval from (an imaginary being)' which is he big part the (delusional people who believe in imaginary beings) are upset about when they bitch at local sheriff's to 'do something' about prostitution.

           

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        Hello, Oct 21st, 2009 @ 8:43pm

        Re: Re:

        You are a dumb ass.......I'm sure you have heard this before.

         

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        whatever, Oct 23rd, 2009 @ 8:22am

        Re: Re:

        As far as I can tell, we never did 'get beyond it'. All you have to do is watch Judge Judy to prove that.

         

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      Ray, Oct 23rd, 2009 @ 9:26pm

      Re: the good Christian folk

      Hey Gary: Find another place to bash Christians and promote your evolution fairy tales. If you're mad at God about something what makes you think the whole world wants to hear about it?

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 21st, 2009 @ 2:58pm

    Reasoned opinion - will be interesting to see what the 7th Circuit does with it. That said, for those griping about the cost, Dart was successful in having a law firm prosecute the case pro-bono, so there was no cost to Cook County taxpayers.

     

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      The Real Zano, Oct 21st, 2009 @ 4:11pm

      Re:

      What about the time the sheriff and his staff spent pursuing the law suit? And the judge and other court resources that must have been used in order to throw out the case?

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Oct 21st, 2009 @ 4:41pm

      Re:

      Everything has a cost AC. Always.

       

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      Kevin, Oct 21st, 2009 @ 7:19pm

      Re:

      Dart was successful in having a law firm prosecute the case pro-bono, so there was no cost to Cook County taxpayers.

      I wonder what suckers he found to take that deal? And I dispute the notion that there was no cost to the taxpayers. There may have been no lawyers fees, but there is monetary costs in the Sherriff's time and the court's time, not to mention the bruised ego for the citizens of Cook country for having elected this clown.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Oct 22nd, 2009 @ 10:09pm

      Re:

      *Dart was successful in having a law firm prosecute the case pro-bono, so there was no cost to Cook County taxpayers.*

      ROFL, I lived in Cook County for 35 years and I can assure nothing gets done for free there. It just means the law firm got a substantial kickback or valuable contract elsewhere for their service.

       

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    Danny (profile), Oct 21st, 2009 @ 3:23pm

    waste of time

    The day this was announced, I was interviewed by a local news channel for an "expert" opinion. I rebundled Mike's logic--presented here at that time--in my interview.

    They were looking for something more purient than section 230, I think. They didn't use very much of what I said.

     

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    www.eZee.se (profile), Oct 21st, 2009 @ 4:40pm

    Wrong dept?

     

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    www.eZee.se (profile), Oct 21st, 2009 @ 4:41pm

    Wrong dept?

    Shouldnt this be from the:
    Just dont get it and dumb as the RIAA dept?

     

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    Is this guy an elected official?, Oct 21st, 2009 @ 5:56pm

    Why

    Why is a sherrif pursuing what should be the District Attorneys job ? Is the DA out there writing tickets and tazing people? I always knew Cook County was messed up, but this is just silly. Oh - and does CL have physical presence in Cook County - or - if there really was an infraction to pursue then it would be a federal jurisdiction

     

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    Joe smith, Oct 21st, 2009 @ 9:21pm

    Freakonomics

    Craigslist: reduces the nuisance of street prostitution, makes life safer and easier for the girls and improves, price, selection, quality and availability for the johns. Win, win, win.

    Why oppose something that gets prostitutes off the streets, benefits the girls and the johns? Who loses?

    One study of Chicago street prostitutes found that about 3% of their tricks were "freebies" given to police officers.

    http://economics.uchicago.edu/pdf/Prostitution%205.pdf

    Just saying.

     

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    Cybertelecom, Oct 22nd, 2009 @ 6:24am

    Sanctions

    Forget the money spent on the law suit - the sheriff is lucky to not get hit with sanctions for a frivolous lawsuit. Have to wonder when the courts will start hitting attorneys with sanctions for these things. There are so many Sec. 230 lawsuits that get knocked down in a blink. After 14 years on the books, attorneys have had sufficient time to familiarize themselves with the law - one would thing.

     

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    Sal, Oct 22nd, 2009 @ 4:25pm

    Not Getting It

    And yet on DrudgeReport.com, he linked to a story about this on nbcchicago.com but used his own headline "JUDGE: CRAIGSLIST Can Sell Sex..." Talk about not getting it. Of course, the story Drudge linked to didn't seem to understand the issue much better but they were a little more neutral about it.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 23rd, 2009 @ 5:12pm

    Your kidding right

    Only direct prostitution is illegal. Apparently buying women things and taking them to dinner (indirect prostitution) is illegal. I never pay a woman to have sex with me, I only give them the money to leave afterwords without the extra chatting. I don't think paying a woman to leave after sex is illegal. I wonder why they don't just freaking legalize it, not like the courts couldn't spend time with real crime.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 23rd, 2009 @ 10:26pm

    TheStupidOne: "I just wonder how we humans got beyond all that."

    That's easy. If a female won't provide access to sex, the male just takes it anyway. I think that practise is even older than prostitution.

    We got "beyond" it by creating a thin veneer of politeness, encouraged more by threat of punishment for bad behaviour than by instinct.

    Without our system of law and punishment, we would not be safe from each other. Sometimes I wonder how that makes us better than chimps.

     

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