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Lori Drew Trial Results In 3 Misdemeanor Convictions 568

Posted by timothy
from the justice-or-not dept.
grassy_knoll writes "As a follow up to an earlier story, the Lori Drew 'cyber-bullying' trial has resulted in misdemeanor convictions." grassy_knoll quotes from the AP story as carried by Salon: "The Los Angeles federal court jury on Wednesday rejected felony charges of accessing a computer without authorization to inflict emotional distress on young Megan Meier. However, the jury found defendant Lori Drew guilty of three counts of the lesser offense of accessing a computer without authorization. The jurors could not reach a verdict on a conspiracy count. Prosecutors said Drew violated the MySpace terms of service by conspiring with her young daughter and a business assistant to create a fictitious profile of a teen boy on the MySpace social networking site to harass Megan. Megan, who had been treated for depression, hanged herself in 2006 after receiving a message saying the world would be better without her." Adds reader gillbates: "She now faces up to 3 years in jail and $300,000 in fines — a troubling precedent for anyone who has ever registered with a website under a pseudonym."
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Lori Drew Trial Results In 3 Misdemeanor Convictions

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  • by TheNecromancer (179644) on Wednesday November 26, 2008 @04:19PM (#25903351)

    is that Ashley Grills, who wrote the actual message about the world being better off without Megan Meier, had immunity protection from being prosecuted, for testifying against Lori Drew! This woman is just as evil as Lori Drew, and should be punished as well!

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 26, 2008 @04:31PM (#25903489)

    No only did Lori Drew not tell Megan the world would be better without her...Megan's mother admitted that she ignored Megan just before she went to her room and killed herself. Tina admitted that Megan wanted to talk but she sent her to her room. Where she killed herself. Tina is more responsible for her daughters death than anyone. This is one of those cases where a parent wants to feel better by pointing their finger at someone else.

  • by Thaelon (250687) on Wednesday November 26, 2008 @04:35PM (#25903535)

    While Megan's death is tragic, I cannot approve of this abuse of the justice system being twisted just to find something, anything, to nail Lori Drew with. It sets dangerous precedents in an already fucked-up-beyond-repair system.

    Certainly Drew deserved punishment, but if everybody using the internet was punished for causing emotional distress over the internet, we'd all be in jail. Keep in mind that that is all she did. She didn't go kill the girl with her bare hands.

    I think a public beating would be more appropriate and cheaper to society as a whole. Give the bitch a few emotional and physical scars of her own to remind her that shit like this will not be tolerated. But computer crimes? Seriously, what the fuck?

  • by megamerican (1073936) on Wednesday November 26, 2008 @04:46PM (#25903641)

    According to wikipedia [wikipedia.org] Meier was taking Celexa, Concerta, and Geodon.

    Celexa is an SSRI anti-depressant medication. SSRI meds are associated with the following side effects:

    Manic Reaction (Mania, e.g., Kleptomania, Pyromania, Dipsomania)
    Abnormal Thinking
    Hallucinations
    Personality Disorder
    Amnesia
    Agitation
    Psychosis
    Abnormal Dreams
    Emotional Lability (Or Instability)
    Alcohol Abuse and/or Craving
    Hostility
    Paranoid Reactions
    Confusion
    Delusions
    Sleep Disorders
    Akathisia (Severe Inner Restlessness)
    Discontinuation (Withdrawal) Syndrome

    On September 14, 2004 the FDA added a Black Box Warning in regard to antidepressants & suicidality in those under age 18
    http://www.fda.gov/ohrms/dockets/ac/04/slides/2004-4065s2.htm [fda.gov]

    On September 14, 2004 the FDA mandated that pharmacies provide to all parents or guardians for those younger than 18 an Antidepressant Patient Medication Guide. This guide reads (in part) "Call healthcare provider right away if you or your family member has any of the following symptoms: Acting aggressive, being angry, or violent & acting on dangerous impulses." This Antidepressant Patient Medication Guide also states "Never stop an antidepressant medicine without first talking to a healthcare provider. Stopping an antidepressant medicine suddenly can cause other symptoms."

    On December 13, 2006, the Black Box Warning for suicidality was updated to include those under age 25. The Black Box Warning is included in the insert to the drugs and in the Physicians' Desk reference.

    Note how Meier was also taking Geodon, which is used for schizophrenia, acute mania, and mixed episodes associated with bipolar disorder. She was clearly being affected negatively by the anti-depressant Celexa. Instead of taking her off the medication her doctors gave her more medication!

    The role that these drugs played in the suicide of this poor girl haven't been investigated. That doesn't excuse the behavior of the women, but does it warrant jail time and a large fine? Shouldn't her parents, doctors and FDA officials, pharma companies also be liable for putting her on these meds?

  • Re:Say what? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by _Sprocket_ (42527) on Wednesday November 26, 2008 @04:58PM (#25903761)

    This has nothing to do with registering under a pseudonym. This has to do with psychological stalking and trauma. Please pull your head out of your ass. I'm sure it's hard to breathe up there.

    This is sort of an interesting part of the case. I had first thought you were completely wrong on this point. But it turns out, I misled myself.

    My initial reaction is that this isn't a murder case. In fact, there was even contention whether the girl's suicide should even be mentioned in the case. The judge eventually allowed it despite the Defense's protests. Defense attorney H. Dean Steward even called the girl's mother's testimony about the girl and her suicide "totally improper in a computer fraud case."

    But having said that - stalking was very much part of the case. The Prosecution was going after Drew for violating MySpace's TOS prohibiting users from using fraudulent registration information, using accounts to obtain personal information about juvenile members and using MySpace to "harass, abuse or harm other members".

    So in the end, the actual case isn't really about pseudonyms. It is, in fact, about harrassment and following a site's TOS. Although I can certainly understand someone using a pseudonym might be concerned that this case might be abused by another lawyer in another case.

  • by voss (52565) on Wednesday November 26, 2008 @05:04PM (#25903805)

    "In a majority of jurisdictions, however, the offense is committed when death occurs during the commission or attempted commission of a misdemeanor."

    Works for me

    Personally I would have thought the adult womans malicious acts of emotional abuse on a child would have constituted reckless endangerment then they could have gone for felony murder.

  • Re:Shit (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Shao Ke (266962) on Wednesday November 26, 2008 @05:20PM (#25903997)

    While I believe this woman is reprehensible, I'd be okay if this were thrown out on appeal.
    I'm sure Mrs. Drew's gotten her ass whuppin' by now.
    Plus, I doubt anyone would move into their house even if they could sell it in this market.
    They're screwed.
    I wonder what would have happened if she had walked over to their house and handed the girl a rope?

  • "He Needed Killing" (Score:3, Interesting)

    by TechForensics (944258) on Wednesday November 26, 2008 @05:24PM (#25904043) Homepage Journal

    Well, in Texas, don't they have enshrined in their legal system the doctrine of "He done needed killin"

    That's been unavailable as a defense for probably more than 100 years.

  • by jcr (53032) <jcr.mac@com> on Wednesday November 26, 2008 @05:26PM (#25904065) Journal

    Are you sure of that? Last I heard, you could still introduce evidence against the character of the deceased in pursuing a justifiable homicide defense in Texas.

    -jcr

  • Re:Makes no sense (Score:3, Interesting)

    by DragonWriter (970822) on Wednesday November 26, 2008 @05:30PM (#25904111)

    Am I the only one who cannot understand why they went this stupid direction rather than processing using a relevent law.

    This is a relevant law.

    To me this seems just as bad as when some companyt slaps "on the internet" onto some existing thing and try to patent it/otherwise claim control over it.

    If this was a physical site, violating the license which allowed one to be premise for the purpose of harming another would be civil, and potentially criminal, trespass. On the internet, and you are violating a different law which is, due to the nature of the internet, a federal law. I don't see what the problem is.

    Surely mental torture is covered by an existing law.

    "Torture", in law, has a very narrow definition which does not apply here. Intentional infliction of emotional distress is generally not a crime, its a tort (a civil cause of action). Anyhow, she was charged with violating the computer fraud and abuse act with the unlawful intent to do that, which is a more severe crime than the run of the mill computer fraud and abuse act violations she was convicted of, but not convicted of that (its actually pretty hard to prove intended mental harm, and unlike with physical harm, you don't have clear instrumentalities that any jury is going to see as clearly signalling that intent -- there isn't a mental equivalent of a gun or knife.)

    However, using accessing a computer network in violation of the only permissions which give you a right to use it is covered by existing law whether or not you are doing it to inflict some kind of mental cruelty, and that's what she is convicted of. Sure, perhaps it seems odd that we have so many different specific laws for "using someone else's stuff without permission" where that "stuff" happens to be real estate (trespass to land), conventional personal property (trespass to chattels, theft, conversion, etc.), computer systems (computer fraud and abuse act), etc. But they are all, including the one used here, "existing" laws.

  • by TechForensics (944258) on Wednesday November 26, 2008 @05:33PM (#25904145) Homepage Journal

    IAAL and I can tell you any case that intentionally and unreasonably pushed a susceptible person to suicide would be punished, at least if the defendant had reason to know of the weakness or susceptibility.

    It's not about doing it online or whether it was done under a real name. It's about what was done and how culpable and causative the conduct was.

  • by MindlessAutomata (1282944) on Wednesday November 26, 2008 @05:40PM (#25904211)

    And how right you are.

    Let me ask you a question. Who is more likely to commit suicide? A person extremely, extremely depressed, or a person that is very depressed but not extremely so?

    If you answered the person extremely, extremely depressed, you answered incorrectly. Those currently being treated for depression are often at risk because once they are lifted out of their extremely depressed state they are able to start forming plans around suicide and actually carrying them out. Antidepressants can put people into this zone of functionality. To put it simply, improving depression can lead to someone committing suicide because they are now more functional.

    They're also fucking depressed in the first place! Being on treatment is not going to necessarily prevent suicide as no treatment is perfect!

  • Re:Shit (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) on Wednesday November 26, 2008 @07:32PM (#25905075)

    It's similar to marijuana tax stamp laws currently enacted in a multitude of states.

    No, it is similar to civil-forfeiture laws that were used to punish people they couldn't otherwise convict but then turned into a free-for-all where grandmothers lost their houses because a grand-kid stayed with them and smoke a couple of joints while he was there.

  • Re:Shit (Score:3, Interesting)

    by nbetcher (973062) <nbetcher@[ ]il.com ['gma' in gap]> on Wednesday November 26, 2008 @07:34PM (#25905089)
    Please mod-down the parent: the post is neatly written, but quite obviously opinionated FUD.

    I also blame the parents of Megan for even letting her get on anti-depressants at such a young age.

    Actually there was never any true-and-lasting contraindication for anti-depressants in teenagers. There was a period of scare, but people soon found out that adults had the same problem too. Typically this results from lack of compliance to the anti-depressant and then having rebound depression.

    Those meds are harsh

    In my experience having worked in the pharmaceutical industry for over 8 years every patient reacts to every medication differently. One person can get high as a kite off of Vicodin, some people don't even notice that they took it. Same with anti-depressants: some people feel better, some people don't.

    and should be only used under the care of a very, very good psychiatrist, note that I did NOT say psychologist. Huge, huge difference. I noticed a trend where a lot of non-medically trained psychologist are making recommendations about MEDICATIONS to their clients (they call them patients). This is very scary. Only a MEDICAL doctor should make those calls.

    There are many poor psychiatrists out there, but I would not discredit psychologists - many of them go to a professional school much longer than some psychiatrists end up going to. Some psychiatrists are so blind to obvious signs of certain conditions that the patient can receive severely inappropriate care. While medical doctors should be the ones held accountable for the medications prescribed, it is a widely accepted form of therapy and treatment to have the psychologist and psychiatrist work together, even if the psychologist is the one to recommend adjunct therapy with medications. Yet you're forgetting the important fact that only medical doctors (which is what psychiatrists are) can prescribe medications in the United States - so the statement that people need to see a medical doctor is rhetorical.

    Yet parents hear crap like ADD or ADHD from just a psychologist and run to their primary care doctor and tell him/her and bam the child is on very harsh drugs that DO have long-term effects and have been shown to cause suicidal thoughts.

    It's also widely accepted by psychologists and psychiatrists that ADD and ADHD is a very overly diagnosed condition, and I completely agree that it is overly diagnosed. Dispensing several stimulant medications (to help treat the symptoms of ADD or ADHD) a day to children is a depressing fact of life that I have to deal with on a day-to-day basis - so I can sympathize. Stimulant medications have not been linked to suicidal ideation's, but they do have potentially very long-term side effects since they accelerate the central nervous system.

    Hell, I am only 35, I was never drugged out by my parents for "mood swings" or my "lack of attention". I spent most of my time in high school with a boner and looking out the window. I turned out OK and with a good career.

    That's fantastic, but for those of us who would have suffered a lot less in high school if our parents would have considered medication options, I can say I completely disagree with your school of thought.

    Would Megan still be alive if she never took SSRI's? No one could say that. However, I personally believe she would.

    Your beliefs are misguided. You have a right to your opinion, yes, but consider the impact on others before you spread FUD. The people you hear all of the bad press about anti-depressants are the same people like you: medically-undereducated laymen attempting to understand very complex organic chemistry and scientific reactions.

  • by Chuck Chunder (21021) on Wednesday November 26, 2008 @07:46PM (#25905177) Homepage Journal

    Again, I don't think it's irrelevant in that it speaks to intent.

    Perhaps in your boys case the real intent is also purely to harass. Can you reasonably infer that intent though?

    In a moral sense you are right, the significantly objectional part of the action wasn't the falsification of information.

    In a legal sense it is relevant though as someones actions speak to their intent.

  • by Orion Blastar (457579) <orionblastar@gmail . c om> on Wednesday November 26, 2008 @07:54PM (#25905213) Homepage Journal

    for trying to seduce a minor under an alias.

    Why do men who do that get felony convictions but women like Lori Drew who do it get a slap on the wrist and misdemeanor charges instead of being a convicted sex offender? She solicited the girl for sex and then told her the world would be better off without her and caused her to hang herself.

    The average Internet troll does not seduce the victim for sex, but rather does personal attacks on them instead.

    Only Kuro5hin and other shitty web sites do the "Shotgun mouthwash now!" troll. Some victims fall for that troll and kill themselves, is that the same as what Lori Drew did?

  • by TapeCutter (624760) on Wednesday November 26, 2008 @09:06PM (#25905563) Journal
    Excellent point, after playing a key role in WW2 Alan Turing was hounded by the authorities for his homosexuality, was bullied into chemical castration, and eventually commited suicide.

    Few people (even in the computer industry) know about the debt we all owe him.
  • Re:Shit (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) on Wednesday November 26, 2008 @09:34PM (#25905725)

    I think it's pretty obvious that the law hasn't quite caught up with the societal changes caused by the Internet. So it shouldn't come as a surprise that the laws that sound like they should apply can't be made to apply.

    I don't think it even sounds like it should apply. This conviction is equivalent to saying that if you sign up for one of those grocery-store "discount cards" using a fake name and address, then you would go to jail. After all, you violated their terms of service by lying on the application and used that violation to obtain discounts that you had no right to which is fraud.

    Even with the DA's hand-waving about using false information in violation of a TOS is not a crime as long as there is no criminal intent, the above scenario would be enough to qualify.

    So I don't think this ruling comes anywhere near sounding like it should apply either.

  • by Chris Kamel (813292) on Wednesday November 26, 2008 @10:26PM (#25905973)
    If you allow a random person on myspace to play your personal physician and shoot yourself I'd call it Darwin at work.
  • Re:Shit (Score:3, Interesting)

    by six11 (579) <johnsogg@cFREEBSDmu.edu minus bsd> on Wednesday November 26, 2008 @10:32PM (#25905997) Homepage

    If I could mod you up (and if you weren't at +5 to me) I'd give you points. People have no disincentive for anti-social behavior because we've let our legal system castrate us.

    This topic always makes me recall how Buzz Aldrin was confronted by a moon landing denier, and Buzz jacked him [youtube.com]. Personally I think the world would be much more pleasant if there was a legal basis for bloodying the nose of somebody who desperately needs it.

  • Re:Shit (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Restil (31903) on Thursday November 27, 2008 @12:23AM (#25906457) Homepage

    First off, as a general rule, most criminals are not exactly the smartest bunch in the lot. They just have to be smart enough to avoid getting caught enough times to make the risk/reward ratio pay off. Yes, there's a chance the police will catch up to you, and also a chance that a homeowner will fill you full of holes. You weigh that against the(unfortunately) very likely chance that you will get away with it.

    Depending on the influences of the criminal, there will be varying degrees of risk that he will be willing to endure for his activities. Take someone who's smart, who carefully cases his targets, ensures the owners won't be home and a lack of credible potential witnesses, knows how to cover his tracks, keeps his mouth shut, and knows when to quit. This criminal will accept far less risk than a broke cokehead on the verge of withdrawl. The cokehead might not even care if the owner might have a gun. Probably doesn't even care if he KNOWS the owner has a gun. He'll still go for it.

    So yes, guns won't stop all crime. Just like the death penalty won't stop murders. However, they do give the owner the capability of defending himself, family, and property that he wouldn't have otherwise.

    What the Castle Doctrine defense offers the owner is the lack of hesitation. While you're preparing to pull the trigger, you don't want to have to take time out to consider if you should wait until your assailant takes one more step toward you so he won't fall outside of the house, or make sure he's directly facing you so you won't accidentally shoot him in the back. It makes the rules you have to follow in a crisis situation much simpler and much easier to prove you were following those rules in good faith.

    -Restil

  • Re:Shit (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Hal_Porter (817932) on Thursday November 27, 2008 @12:51AM (#25906549)

    In England there was a case where Tony Martin [wikipedia.org], who'd been burgled lots of times killed a burglar. In English law it's not necessarily illegal to kill burglars in self defense. So if you had a shotgun and an unarmed burglar walked in and you shot him dead you might get away with it as self defense. The force was excessive, but since you were only defending yourself it would be ok. The problem with Tony Martin is that he apparently sat in bed with his boots on and a loaded shotgun waiting for the burglar and then chased them off the premises firing his shotgun. That seems like premeditation and it makes the excessive force illegal. Tony Martin went to prison for life, but appealed and in the end only served 3 years.

    Anyhow in the middle of this case they interviewed a Texan lawyer who said something along the lines of "in Texas walking down the street you have certain rights but as soon as you break into someone's house you lose some rights, including the right to life". Texas rocks!

  • by Arancaytar (966377) <arancaytar.ilyaran@gmail.com> on Thursday November 27, 2008 @03:25AM (#25907079) Homepage

    we'd all be in jail

    Not really. Many people on /b/ maybe. Would that be bad? The concept of free speech derives from the idea that anything is allowed unless it harms people. The ancient "shouting fire in a crowded theatre" analogy is exactly on the spot. Sure, *you* didn't hang the suicidal girl, but then *you* didn't trample all those people who died in the stampede. Free speech should protect us when we criticize powerful people. It shouldn't mean we get to be assholes.

    I can understand you are torn between civil liberty and justice, but re-introducing lynch-mobs is not the solution. The only difference between mobs and fascist governments is that mobs are less predictable.

    This can be solved by courts, really.

  • Re:Shit (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 27, 2008 @06:02AM (#25907633)

    (depression, violent behavior, and suicide attempts are normal for teenagers)

    Umm... no, they aren't. Some level of emotional turmoil is normal for teenagers, but depression - actual depression! - and suicide attempts aren't.

    It's just like with physical symptoms, too. A girl might be experiencing cramps when she gets her first period, but that doesn't mean that ANY AND ALL pain she'll feel is normal. It's still possible for other things to be wrong/broken about her body.

    The same is true for mental issues, as well. The world isn't binary.

    As for antidepressants, I'll partially agree with you insofar as that they're not a solution in themselves but rather just give you a foundation upon which to build in therapy, but to claim that they don't work is disingenous at best. I am suffering from clinical depressions myself, and I've taken a variety of antidepressants in the past, including tricyclics, SSRIs and NaSSAs, and they DO work. What they DON'T do is solve your problems.

    (That, and of coure they are serious drugs that can have serious side effects and shouldn't be prescribed lightly, anyway, but that doesn't mean they should never be prescribed at all. Again, the world isn't binary.)

  • Re:Shit (Score:2, Interesting)

    by sabs (255763) on Thursday November 27, 2008 @08:30AM (#25908195)

    Had that been my child, Lori Drew would never have made it to trial.

    I might make it to trial, but Lori Drew would not.

"Out of register space (ugh)" -- vi

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