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.

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Companies: craigslist

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Comments on “Court Teaches Cook County Sheriff About Section 230, Dismisses Case Against Craigslist”

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Gary (profile) says:

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.

TheStupidOne says:

Re: 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.

Kevin says:

Re: 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.

Kevin says:

Re: 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.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: 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.

Is this guy an elected official? says:


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

Joe smith says:


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.

Just saying.

Cybertelecom (user link) says:


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.

Anonymous Coward says:

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.

Anonymous Coward says:

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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