Legal Issues

by Mike Masnick




Just Using Google Not Enough In County Search For Man Who Owed Taxes

from the don't-forget-the-other-ways dept

Two years ago we wrote about a case where a judge ruled that someone who was required to do a full search to reach someone should have known to try a Google search. In that case, the original person hadn't bothered to look online, and concluded that the other person was unfindable -- while a simple Google search proved that to be untrue. A new case, however, presents a slightly different situation: what if you only did a Google search? That's what folks from Northampton County did in trying to track down a guy who owed back taxes. They were unable to find him via Google, even though a phone book lookup would have found his correct phone number. A court has now ruled that just using Google isn't sufficient. So, for those of you keeping score (or being required by law to track down some missing people), this means that (a) you should use Google in your search, but (b) you shouldn't rely on only Google.

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  • identicon
    Koresho, 7 Jun 2007 @ 9:36pm

    ... Gov employees?

    hey... aren't these government employees...
    meaning, they should have access to stuff better than Google?
    whatever.

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

    • identicon
      Charles Griswold, 7 Jun 2007 @ 10:17pm

      Re: ... Gov employees?

      hey... aren't these government employees...
      Why yes, they are.
      meaning, they should have access to stuff better than Google?
      Not necessarily, because 1) Google is really good and 2) it's the government you're talking about.

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

  • identicon
    The Swiss Cheese Monster, 7 Jun 2007 @ 9:39pm

    I wonder if they tried Googling that little Kansas girl who was just taken from a Target parking lot?

    If they didn't: THOSE BASTARDS!

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 7 Jun 2007 @ 11:45pm

      Re:

      This just goes to show... that if you are a little girl from Kansas, you should not be hanging around Target parking lots by yourself.

      But seriously now, I think that the "little girl" you were referring to was actually 18 years old (Teenager?) and she wasn't taken, Kelsey Smith was forced into her car.

      http://www.FindKelsey.com

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

      • identicon
        The Swiss Cheese Monster, 8 Jun 2007 @ 12:41am

        Re: Re:

        Well, OK so 18 isn't exactly what most people would consider little, but I do.... :)

        Thanks for the URL that you posted there.

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

  • identicon
    Mark Bowness, 8 Jun 2007 @ 2:05am

    Its incredible how the world is changing by the power of the internet!

    Mark Bowness

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

  • identicon
    JungleJim, 8 Jun 2007 @ 5:40am

    Internet???

    I thought with all his free time Al Gore would have invented something better by now... hahahahaha

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

  • identicon
    Adam, 8 Jun 2007 @ 6:02am

    government

    "hey... aren't these government employees...
    meaning, they should have access to stuff better than Google?"

    Maybe... but it would take 4 minutes per query and return 10% of the requested information... none of which would be useful.

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

  • identicon
    Overcast, 8 Jun 2007 @ 6:22am

    As usual with the justice system...

    Damned if you do - Damned if you don't.

    Unless, of course, you're rich - like Paris Hilton, then it doesn't matter, as you can buy justice.

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

    • identicon
      Charles Griswold, 8 Jun 2007 @ 1:44pm

      Re: Paris Hilton

      Unless, of course, you're rich - like Paris Hilton, then it doesn't matter, as you can buy justice.
      According to a BBC article, she "has been taken screaming from a Los Angeles court after being told to return to jail to serve out her sentence." She got sentenced to a month and a half in jail and couldn't handle the first three days. My heart bleeds for her.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Jun 2007 @ 7:18am

    Its not as stupid as people are trying to make it sound. The court is simply saying that if your claiming you tried to find a person and couldn't, that you had better have at least tried all the basic free methods out there, old AND new (google AND the phone book.) The courts in washington even make you put in ad in the local paper, for a few weeks. God forbid you actually make an effort to find someone before you confiscate his property.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Jun 2007 @ 9:03am

    True story: I ended up getting served with a federal subpoena because somebody googled a name similar to mine and since I lived in the state the trial was taking place in and the person they really wanted to testify lived several states away I was given the subpoena by a rather testy process server.

    The lawyer who subpoenaed me was extremey obnoxious when I called and asked why I was being called to testify and when he told me who his client was (it was the Logan Young bribery trial) I said I'd never heard of him and had no idea what I could possibly testify about. He threatened me with perjury and told me he would present the book I'd written into evidence. When I asked him what book he was talking about he said "Bragging Rights," a book about the Alabama-Auburn sports rivalry.

    When I pointed out that I hadn't written the book (but am frequently angrily asked if I did) he got even more obnoxious until I told him that if he was trying to subpoena me he had my name wrong and I would refuse to appear because he had mis-identified me.

    It turned out that the agency he used to serve subpoenas had just googled the author's name and I was the first hit they got and they assumed that I was the right guy. The next day I got a sheepish call from the process server who said "I've had thousands of people tell me I made a mistake when I served them, and you're the first time I actually did." I told him if he'd looked in the phone book he could have figured out I wasn't who he was looking for and saved himself a trip all the way out to my house.

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

    • identicon
      Vaximily, 8 Jun 2007 @ 4:13pm

      Re:

      That is a hillarious story!

      I can't imagine mistakes being made like this very often. County Sheriff's departments have a database with EVERY person that has ever resided in that county and their current residence, along with family information, court and public records, and just about anything you could want to know about a person that is in any way public.

      They also have photographs that are updated frequently of every address in that county, so when they type in the address they can describe what the residence looks like to the responding officer.

      This is the same system dispatchers for 911 use (So fire and medical have these capabilities too).

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Jun 2007 @ 12:17pm

    ...Captain Obvious strikes again!

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


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