Judge Throws Out Convictions in MySpace Hoax


Yesterday U.S. District Court Judge George Wu threw out the misdemeanor convictions of Lori Drew, the Missouri woman blamed for precipitating the suicide of a 13-year-old girl by assisting a cruel MySpace prank, under the federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. Taking a cue from critics such as George Washington University law professor Orin Kerr (who ended up serving as a pro bono attorney for Drew), Wu said he was worried that the legal theory underlying U.S. Attorney Thomas O'Brien's prosecution of Drew could make any violation of a website's terms of service a federal crime. "It basically leaves it up to a website owner to determine what is a crime," Wu said, "and therefore it criminalizes what would be a breach of contract."

O'Brien, a grandstanding prosecutor who bravely took on one of the most reviled people in America by twisting federal law beyond recognition so he could bring Drew to trial in Los Angeles for actions that were not criminal in Missouri, was contrite. Just kidding:

O'Brien…said after the decision was announced that the law needed to be strengthened.

"We call it cyber-bullying, and we don't have a law to address it," he said at a news conference.

O'Brien, who plainly has no concern about how his self-aggrandizing prosecutions imperil civil liberties, probably has in mind something like this

I condemned the Drew prosecution here. Other Reason coverage of the case here.

[via The Moderate Voice]