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ACLU Wins, No Sexting Charges For NJ Teens 406

Posted by kdawson
from the know-it-when-i-see-it dept.
Following up on the "sexting" case we've discussed in recent days, oliphaunt sends word from the Times-Tribune that a New Jersey federal judge has ordered the prosecutor not to file charges in the cases of three teenage girls whose cell phones were confiscated. "Wyoming [NJ] County District Attorney George Skumanick Jr. cannot charge three teenage girls who appeared in photographs seminude traded by classmates last year, a judge ruled Monday. US District Judge James M. Munley granted a request by the American Civil Liberties Union to temporarily stop Mr. Skumanick from filing felony charges against the Tunkhannock Area School District students."
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ACLU Wins, No Sexting Charges For NJ Teens

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  • by MrMista_B (891430) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @06:25PM (#27409027)

    In the United States (and, more and more the UK and Australia), children are the enemy.

    Why?

  • by nightfire-unique (253895) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @06:57PM (#27409409)

    In the United States (and, more and more the UK and Australia), children are the enemy.

    Why?

    Easy target. Young people can't defend themselves.

  • by skroops (1237422) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @07:21PM (#27409717)
    This actually happened to me when I was a high-school student... Back before the internet crash, when you could get domain names for free, a friend of mine wanted to put a website up of his balls, just his balls, at jasonsballs.com (made-up first name). He was 16 and I was 17. I registered the site and drew up the html, with jasonsballs.com in big red letter, a single gif of his ballsack, and an angelfire counter. A few days later and a coupl e thousand hits later, I'm in the administrative office at my highschool with the police. They asked me about it and I explained what we had done (mistake of course). After a bit of time both of us were charged with "Pandering Obscenity of a Minor" or some such charge, a 5th degree felony. After months of lawyers talking, we finally had a court date. 5 minutes in, when an actual judge saw the case, he dismissed it immediately. Nevermind the thousands of dollars in attorney's fees that we had to pay.

    I had an idea to call the ACLU at that time but thought that media exposure might hurt me in the long run, now I regret not calling them.

    Anyway, this seems like a similar situation and hopefully competent decisions like this will continue to be made.
  • by DeadCatX2 (950953) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @07:39PM (#27409891) Journal

    I'm so sick of this myth that naked pictures cause problems. The shame associated with nudity (and even sex) says more about those viewing the picture than those who are in it.

    Seriously, has anyone ever known someone whose life was ruined because of a naked picture?

    Anyone?

    The shame that our society attaches to nudity and sex is an attempt at prohibition. By making it taboo, it becomes enticing. Just like with alcohol, drugs, and prostitution, this forces it underground. Poor debaters will also use the taboo nature of the subject to stifle honest discussion by suggesting that supporters engage in the prohibited acts (i.e. those who defend these children are pedophiles who want easy access to CP, those who defend drug users are junkies, etc).

    If it weren't for that prosecutor, none of you would have ever known anything about this. Isn't it ironic that the response taken to teach these kids about "potentially permanent burdens" has done more to create those exact burdens than the act itself would have?

    When will we learn that over-protecting our children is hurting them by stunting their social growth? When they turn 18 and go off to college, an over-protected teenager will not be equipped with the proper skills necessary to navigate a world full of people who want to take advantage of them.

    As for the fear that there will be an explosion of new child porn if it's legal for minors to take pictures of themselves...further application of this logic leads to support for banning bullets because their existence leads to an "explosion" of homicides involving guns.

    Also, consider that teenagers are already doing this, and in a quantity deserving of its own slang description.

  • by Shakrai (717556) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @08:23PM (#27410433) Journal

    Nevermind the thousands of dollars in attorney's fees that we had to pay

    How did you rack up thousands of dollars in fees for something that got kicked the first time the judge saw it? I wound up charged with a Class E felony in NYS that went to grand jury and five different court appearances and "only" wound up paying ~$4,500.

  • by Shakrai (717556) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @08:26PM (#27410463) Journal

    but ethically should we not be allowed to sue, or bring charges, against prosecutors who do patently ridiculous and abusive things?

    Perhaps, but the DA makes a good point (probably his only one ever) when he says that it's a dangerous precedent to set when a Federal court prevents a State prosecutor from bringing charges. I'm no fan of what he's trying to do but I probably would have called his bluff before I would have run off to the Federal court house. His 'evidence' seems pretty thin and it's doubtful that it would even make it to a jury, let alone a conviction.....

  • by Shakrai (717556) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @08:39PM (#27410585) Journal

    I mean, the girls were dragged though court for a year now

    Umm, have you read ANY of the stories about this case? The DA has threatened to charge them. They haven't been "dragged" anywhere more menacing than a conference room as yet.

    and probably get a psychic damage for lifetime

    Oh please. This whole thing smells like bullshit but I'm growing weary of hearing people play the "damaged for a lifetime" card. If they are like the teenagers I know their reaction is probably somewhere between smugness and indifference. Either way, it takes more than a few meetings with an asshole DA to damage most people for "a lifetime"

  • by Arker (91948) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @11:58PM (#27411977) Homepage Journal

    It has nothing to do with belief, if I managed to practice enough ignorance and double-think to actually *believe* their position it would still be false. And as I mentioned, I know for a fact that many of these guys are very sharp and well read and know how hypocritical the organisational position is.

    Liking peanut butter or not isnt even vaguely comparable - you're talking about personal taste on the one hand, and fundamental civil rights on the other, as if they were somehow comparable. They are not. Liking peanut butter is a personal preference, there is no one right answer there.

    Whether looked at philosophically or legally and historically the same cannot be true for the second amendment. Philosophically speaking, if you are to have any true rights at all, you MUST have the right to defend yourself from aggressors. Without that, any purported right is, at best, converted into a privilege instead. If you are forcibly prevented from acquiring, possessing, using the tools necessary to defend yourself in a meaningful way from aggressors, your "rights" are nothing more than ink on paper. You have been effectively converted from a citizen to a subject, from a free man in a free society to a subject in a prison camp.

    And historically/legally speaking, again, it's clear and irrefutable that the second amendment was intended and understood in just that fashion, and furthermore even without touching on "original intent" the words themselves clearly and plainly say this. The arguments used to try and twist the second amendment into something else are very often the same arguments that ACLU lawyers (rightly) demolish over and over again in the context of the other amendments. So there just is no word that fits this other than hypocrisy. Their mission is to defend the bill of rights and civil liberties, across the board. When they start picking and choosing which of our rights are worthy of defence and which are not, that is simply and plainly hypocritical.

  • by CodeBuster (516420) on Wednesday April 01, 2009 @12:47AM (#27412269)
    As I recall a similar issue came up in the Duke Lacross false accusation of rape case where it was pointed out that unless a prosecutor is convicted of misconduct (as Mike Nifong [wikipedia.org] was in that case) he or she enjoys broad legal immunity from civil lawsuits arising out of their official actions as prosecutor.
  • by honkycat (249849) on Wednesday April 01, 2009 @01:44AM (#27412521) Homepage Journal

    Bull shit.

    A) Are you seriously claiming that people without children put aside their own self-interest and decide morality in some self-sacrificing manner for the good of society? What world are you living in? It clearly isn't this one.

    2) Because one parent made a statement you disagreed with about the complex and heavily debated topic of universal health care and (so you claim) they backed this up with a bogus reason pertaining to their children, you conclude that morality exists only due to childless people?

    iv) Come back in a few years and re-read your comment after you've had children. Then you'll understand how ridiculous you sound.

    Anyway, I can't tell to what degree you're joking, but I completely disagree with your comment. People are in general not very strongly motivated by the common good in their day-to-day decisions, regardless of what they may claim. If anything, I think having children makes you *more* aware of others because you suddenly have a vested interest in your society agreeing to obey morals that ensure your child will be protected even when he's out of your watchful eye.

  • by Jane Q. Public (1010737) on Wednesday April 01, 2009 @06:03AM (#27413671)
    I tend to agree with you that ostensibly this should be a state issue. On the other hand, you must admit that the Federal government (justified or not) has seen fit to intrude into just about anything that has to do with pornography.

    A case in point is Title 18, Section 2257, which (contrary to popular belief) applies to individuals just as much as it does to commercial pornography. They justify this with an outrageous interpretation of the Interstate Commerce clause, stating that if ANY of the materials you use (such as a videotape) for creating ANY pornographic material (pictures of your girlfriend) were purchased from out of state, the law applies to you.

    Caution, eBayers: that videotape you bought from someone in Iowa, and the printer paper from Texas, make you a felon.

    If you do not believe me, look it up.
  • civil disobedience (Score:3, Interesting)

    by kyoko21 (198413) on Wednesday April 01, 2009 @09:12AM (#27414885)

    One way to make a point, why not just have all your friends sexting to each other, make a facebook page, make it a facebook group, twitter about it, chose a day, and everyone participate in an act of civil disobedience. What are they going to do? Prosecute every single teenager that has a cell phone? This forces the law to react because clearly the law has been applied incorrectly because someone decided that it was easier to punish the few but the will of the masses to demand common sense will prove just in the end.

    So my question is, when is the National Sexting Day going to take place?

  • by computational super (740265) on Wednesday April 01, 2009 @09:53AM (#27415469)

    But, if not for puritanical jerks like yourself, this sort of behavior wouldn't be a big deal, would it? You turn it into a self-fulfilling prophecy - "if you do this, your life will be ruined, because a loudmouthed minority of religious bible-thumping zealots like myself will judge you as a nonperson because of it."

    I did a lot of things as a teenager that I'm embarrassed about - in fact, there's photographic evidence that I had hair halfway down my back and walked around in sleeveless T-shirts. If some group of idiots started insisting that "nobody who ever wore their hair long can get a decent job" (or whatever the hell random consequence you arbitrarily decide to associate with naked pictures), I'd be screwed.

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