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Judge Tentatively Dismisses Case Against Lori Drew 420

Posted by timothy
from the gotta-state-a-proper-claim dept.
An anonymous reader writes "According to Wired, 'A federal judge on Thursday overturned guilty verdicts against Lori Drew, and issued a directed acquittal on the three misdemeanor charges.'" A similar story in the L.A. Times notes that "The decision by US District Judge George H. Wu will not become final until his written ruling is filed, probably next week." Update: 07/02 21:15 GMT by T : For those not following, Lori Drew's three convictions sprang from charges of online harassment of Megan Meier, a Missouri teenager whose suicide was linked to Drew's actions.
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Judge Tentatively Dismisses Case Against Lori Drew

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  • by oneirophrenos (1500619) on Thursday July 02, 2009 @04:36PM (#28563899)

    A simple glance at TFA would have told you that:

    Drew was accused of participating in a cyberbullying scheme against a 13-year-old girl who later committed suicide.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 02, 2009 @04:38PM (#28563925)

    She trolled someone to death.

  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Thursday July 02, 2009 @04:40PM (#28563965) Journal
    I'm pleasantly surprised. I was fully expecting this to fall into the "hard cases make really awful law" pile.
  • by MightyYar (622222) on Thursday July 02, 2009 @04:41PM (#28563991)

    I don't get the feeling I know what Lori was charged with.

    She killed Michael Jackson.

  • by oahazmatt (868057) on Thursday July 02, 2009 @04:42PM (#28563999) Journal

    She trolled someone to death.

    Allegedly. Prior to the original verdict, even the girl's mother confirmed the she and her daughter had argued when her daughter tried to speak to her about the supposed boy who broke her heart. It was not directly after she received the message "the world would be better off without you" when the girl hung herself, but after an argument with her mother and her mother left for work.

    I have no doubt that Lori Drew's actions were a contributor to the girl's behavior, but I don't believe it was the only catalyst.

  • by Todd Knarr (15451) on Thursday July 02, 2009 @04:43PM (#28564013) Homepage

    Double-jeopardy protection would apply. The whole point of double-jeopardy is to prevent exactly that: a prosecutor simply repeatedly trying charges until they find one that'll stick. I heartily approve of that idea. Yes, it means people walk away when the prosecutor screws up. The problem there isn't that the people walked away, it's that the prosecutor couldn't or wouldn't take the time to sort through the case and figure out what charges really did apply before going ahead with it.

  • Will she pay? (Score:3, Informative)

    by lazlow (94602) on Thursday July 02, 2009 @04:45PM (#28564049) Journal

    I think a Wrongful Death suit is appropriate.

  • "tentatively"? (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 02, 2009 @04:47PM (#28564075)

    He dismissed it. They don't write the rulings in the courtroom so it has to be on paper before any new motions can be based on the dismissal, but he dismissed it. That's all 'will not become final' means. It's not an exploratory step.

  • by Wowlapalooza (1339989) on Thursday July 02, 2009 @04:48PM (#28564093)

    ("Not I" you mean...)

    There has been so much Slashdot coverage of the Lori Drew/Megan Meier so-called "cyberbullying" case over the past several months, I suppose the summary writer simply assumed that these people were "well-known figures" on this site, albeit perhaps slightly less so than Gates/Ballmer/McBride/Obama/Stevens/Thompson/Lessig/Doctorow/Stallman/Torvalds et al....

  • by introspekt.i (1233118) on Thursday July 02, 2009 @04:50PM (#28564119)
    I agree with you. Why she wasn't charged with harassment (though I'm not quite sure what Missouri's interpretation is and if it would apply here) or some weird exploitation of a minor or something else like that is amazing. Why they decided to charge her with "computer hacking" is just another example of how our legal elites of today are completely out of touch with modern day 1990's technology. As much as I'd like to see her put away for awhile, this could set a really bad legal precedent if the judge were to give it a green light.
  • by Repossessed (1117929) on Thursday July 02, 2009 @04:56PM (#28564201)

    Um, no she didn't, there was never *any* intent to drive Meagan to suicide.

    Beyond that, Lori Drew wasn't even the one who wrote the messages that set Meagan off. Another teenager testified at Lori Drew's trial that she (the other teenager) had also had access to the account and had written the final messages.

  • by davester666 (731373) on Thursday July 02, 2009 @05:02PM (#28564303) Journal

    FTA, somebody else: signed up on myspace, created the profile, AND sent the last message to the teen. The person that actually PERFORMED the actions copped a deal for ZERO punishment.

    And what she was charged with, because they couldn't charge her for anything directly related to the teen's suicide, so they charge that violating a site's TOS as a criminal offense? That's ridiculous.

    Is she a bad person? Yes. But there wasn't any enacted law she broke, so there is no punishment the public can enforce, other than public scorn, which she has, and continue to, get lots of.

  • by Tanktalus (794810) on Thursday July 02, 2009 @05:20PM (#28564545) Journal

    Not all crimes require intent. "I intended to go through that intersection at a high rate of speed, officer, but I did not *intend* to kill the pedestrian." == "vehicular manslaughter". This case seems like a prime candidate for "criminal negligence causing death". The defendant, from what I've heard, did wilfully cause distress to a child whose depressive condition was known to her (seriously? a 13-year-old girl who is NOT emotionally volatile is the exception, not the rule!) that the defendant should have known faced a reasonable likelihood (which is not the same as "better than 50-50 odds") of causing the death of said child. That's pretty much criminal negligence right there.

    The only thing that shoots a hole in this theory, as far as I'm aware, is the presumption that the prosecution lawyers probably know the law better than I do, especially as I'm not a lawyer, and would have gone for the easy conviction over the hard (novel) one if it really as straight forward as this.

  • by loners (561941) on Thursday July 02, 2009 @05:25PM (#28564615)

    She intentionally gave false information to someone (myspace) for the explicit purpose of hurting someone else. If this was done financially (bad checks from account opened with fake info) this would be easy to convict.

    The issue is that the laws around the idea of using words to hurt someone else are more vague and difficult to legislate in agreement with the 1st amendment freedom of speech.

    Expect to see new laws creating a new category of harassment. This would include stiffer sentencing for committing fraud (giving false information/id) during the process of harassing someone.

    They should have gone after her as a child predator.
    She, an adult, created an online account with the intention of creating a relationship with a minor. She claims it was just to harass her but if any of the discussion was intimate then what?
    If it was not the mother of the ex-friend, but the father, that created the account to build the relationship, do you think they would not have prosecuted him for this.

    The simple truth is she is an adult who was acting like a 13 yr old girl. She was stupid and reckless and justice will catch up with her in the civil courts.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 02, 2009 @05:47PM (#28564949)

    Not to get too off topic or be pendantic, but hey this is slashdot. I really hate the 'shout fire in a crowded theatre' comment.

    A. It's perfectly reasonable to shout fire, if there is a fire.

    B. This was used in a decision by the Supreme Court in 1919 that said that it was illegal to pass out flyers that were against the draft (WW I). Let me repeat, this argument was used to describe why handing out flyers against the draft was found to be illegal by the U.S. Supreme Court. And it was a unanimous decision no less, boggles the mind. Anyway since I think most USians would consider this acceptable political speech these days, I'm not sure what the "can't shout fire" argument even means. "It should be bad now, but in 100 years it will be considered perfectly okay to say 'x' in speech?"

    # end of off-topic-rant

  • by Lloyd_Bryant (73136) on Thursday July 02, 2009 @08:24PM (#28566643)

    This case seems like a prime candidate for "criminal negligence causing death". The defendant, from what I've heard, did wilfully cause distress to a child whose depressive condition was known to her (seriously? a 13-year-old girl who is NOT emotionally volatile is the exception, not the rule!) that the defendant should have known faced a reasonable likelihood (which is not the same as "better than 50-50 odds") of causing the death of said child. That's pretty much criminal negligence right there.

    First off, "criminal negligence" means "failing to take action when it is obvious that such action is necessary to prevent harm". What you're looking for is called "depraved indifference", which means "taking an action knowing that harm is likely, but not caring".

    And I'm not sure that *either* applies to his case. You state the defendant "should have known faced a reasonable likelihood of causing the death of said child", but there's no evidence that the defendant had the psychological training needed to recognize the difference between an ordinary teen's mood swings and a teen headed for suicidal depression. Without such expertise, you can't really assert that she knew that there was a serious probability of suicide resulting from her actions.

    What this case calls for is the classic "wrongful death" civil suit. There simply isn't an existing criminal statute that covers this case (and it would be extremely hard to craft one, without many unintended consequences), so let the girl's parents sue the crap out of Lori Drew, and let that be the end of it.

  • Manslaughter (Score:5, Informative)

    by jbolden (176878) on Thursday July 02, 2009 @09:32PM (#28567201) Homepage

    She engaged in a criminal conspiracy to harm someone which accidentally resulted in their death. That's manslaughter.

  • by jbolden (176878) on Thursday July 02, 2009 @09:43PM (#28567299) Homepage

    That's the difference between manslaughter and murder. In murder there is an intent to cause death. In manslaughter there is an intent to cause harm but the death resulted accidentally. For example if I punch someone and they die that's a manslaugher.

  • Re:Ah, yes. (Score:2, Informative)

    by KDR_11k (778916) on Friday July 03, 2009 @05:00AM (#28569473)

    It's a joke, the misspelling was used in some mother's open letter to the internet after her child committed suicide, she called him "an hero". Hence "an hero" has become a meme referring to suicide.

  • by jabuzz (182671) on Friday July 03, 2009 @06:36AM (#28569933) Homepage

    Once you physically touch the person it is no longer assault and becomes battery.

    Assault is threatening behaviour towards another person.

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