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MySpace Case Conviction Tossed

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Linda Deutsch reports for AP:

A federal judge on Thursday tentatively threw out the convictions of a Missouri mother for her role in a MySpace hoax directed at a 13-year-old neighbor girl who ended up committing suicide.
U.S. District Judge George Wu said he was acquitting Lori Drew of misdemeanor counts of accessing computers without authorization but stressed the ruling was tentative until he issues it in writing. He noted the case of a judge who changed his mind after ruling.

What Drew did is beyond despicable, but it was not a violation of the federal computer hacking law, 18 U.S.C. ยง 1030, the law she was accused of breaking in this case. A law that makes it a crime merely to breach a contract would be scary indeed, and Congress should not be lightly presumed to have enacted such a law.

If the criminal case is indeed over, let us hope that Drew at least gets socked with a civil judgment so large she will never again own any nonexempt assets.

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I think the outrage at Lori Drew is a little overblown--just a little. What she did is off-the-charts weird and cruel to boot. What normal parent inserts themselves into the lives of adolescents in such a manner? However, it's highly unlikely that she intended anything more than to inflict emotional pain on her victim (like I said, weird in the extreme and cruel). I'm not sure that she really ought to be the subject of civil liability either--holding others (except for professionals, and maybe jailers) civilly responsible for suicide is problematic.

Unfortunately, this prosecution may turn this witch into a victim.

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