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Lori Drew Jury Reaches a Verdict:
According to the Associated Press. The verdict has not yet been announced, but should be announced as soon as the court can reconvene. Also, note that in the event of a guilty verdict on some or all counts, Judge Wu has still yet to rule on the Rule 29 motion to dismiss.

  UPDATE: Fox News reports:
A jury has convicted a Missouri mother of lesser, misdemeanor crimes in the MySpace cyber-bullying case linked to a 13-year-old girl's suicide.

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.
Now the attention will turn to Judge Wu, who has yet to rule on the Rule 29 motion to dismiss. Also, note that for purposes of appeal, which will follow if Judge Wu does not grant the Rule 29 motion, this verdict focuses attention on the proseuction's core theory in the case: the theory that violating Terms of Service of a website is itself a federal crime. That is, the nature of the jury's verdict -- if not set aside by Judge Wu -- will allow the appeal to focus directly on the computer crime issue rather than on the suicide and its admissibility.
einhverfr (mail) (www):
Based on the jury question, my guess is that they will find her guilty. For them to be hung on one count but unanimous on the others suggests that they are leaning towards guilt to my mind.

Now we need to hope for a dismissal, and a strong appellate court statement that 18 USC 1030 does not criminalize violations of adherence contracts.
11.26.2008 2:02pm
man from mars:
When was the last time an appellate court in the United States ruled in favor of a high-profile, highly unpopular, defendant?

Are you trying to argue the Skilling trial was more fair than this - he's still in prison. Or the Stewart case.

Law is just an instrument of popular will - there is no "law" any more.
11.26.2008 2:14pm
Anderson (mail):
Missouri mom found guilty of lesser misdemeanor charges in MySpace cyber-bullying trial.
11.26.2008 2:16pm
Anderson (mail):
Oops, itchy posting finger -- that's the "breaking news" banner at CNN, no details yet.
11.26.2008 2:17pm
OrinKerr:
man from mars,

It happens frequently, of course. Just looking at the U.S. Supreme Court alone, they often rule in favor of terrorists, murderers, and rapists. To pick one of the Court's most recent high profile decisions, in Kennedy v. Louisiana the Supreme Court ruled in favor of a man who had raped his young daughter (not, I assume you would agree, a defndant likely to win any popularity contests).

But then I am a person who submitted a brief with angled quotes, so perhaps I have no credibility with you.
11.26.2008 2:19pm
merevaudevillian:
Per AP via FOX:

A jury has convicted a Missouri mother of lesser, misdemeanor crimes in the MySpace cyber-bullying case linked to a 13-year-old girl's suicide.

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.
11.26.2008 2:20pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):

When was the last time an appellate court in the United States ruled in favor of a high-profile, highly unpopular, defendant?


Maybe this doesn't quite qualify because it is SCOTUS and might not be quite highly publicized enough, but I think Kennedy v. Louisiana strikes me as a good example of courts stepping in on the side of unpopular defendants.

Also, this may be somewhat tangental, but I think that the 4th Circuit's decision not to vacate their earlier ruling in Padilla v. Hanft strikes me as standing up to the Bush Administration in a very high profile case.
11.26.2008 2:24pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
OrinKerr-- There is an important silver lining in this verdict. It means that now a ruling over whether 18 USC 1030 criminalizes violations of adherence contracts must be made.
11.26.2008 2:25pm
Paul Milligan (mail):
Do they now go after EVERYONE who committed the same offense ( the one she was convicted for ), 'Creating a fictitious identity on a social chat board site' ? 'Violating the TOS of an ISP' ??? 'Using a fake name online' ???

VC posters - WATCH OUT !!! We know who you are !!!! Or, if we DON'T, you're a CRIMINAL !!!!!
11.26.2008 2:30pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
Paul Milligan: Maybe I should confess I have helped my 4-year-old look up pictures of bridges and trains on Google. That makes me a conspirator, right?
11.26.2008 2:35pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
man from mars:

There have also been some cases in Washington state where the state supreme court has sided with defendants on the basis their actions were not actually illegal, even where such a verdict was very unpopular. I am trying to find the specific cases, but it has been a while.
11.26.2008 2:48pm
Anderson (mail):
When was the last time an appellate court in the United States ruled in favor of a high-profile, highly unpopular, defendant?

The 5th Circuit overturned the guilty verdict against KKKer James Seale, who kidnapped and murdered two black guys back in the day. That was a few months ago. Presently it's on en banc review, which has made at least one judge unhappy.
11.26.2008 2:59pm
Fub:
I adhere to the notion that most TOSs are presented as adhesion contracts. So, I fervently hope that an appellate court will vacate the convictions that were based upon "accessing a computer without authorization".

That particular interpretation of law seems to conflate by analogy two distinct old common law concepts, trespass and burglary. Every burglary is also a trespass, but every trespass is not a burglary.

Trespass can occur whenever authorization or license to be present on the property is exceeded. If presence is otherwise authorized but the sign says "no fishing", then the authorized visitor who fishes becomes a trespasser.

Burglary requires breaking and entering, or circumventing some means that were intended to prevent authorized intrusion to a dwelling.

The two are not the same.

But the computer law as interpreted in this case has made "computer trespass", or exceeding the license of the TOS even in a de minimis way while already using the computer legitimately, into "computer burglary", or hacking into a computer by circumventing the means that were intended to keep out people who had absolutely no authorization to access the computer in the first place.
11.26.2008 3:07pm
TCO:
Can I go to jail for my trolling? I always thought of it as some sort of halfway performance art.
11.26.2008 3:32pm
Sean M.:
Here's an interesting question: If Judge Wu does grant the R. 29 motion, can the government appeal that decision? If so, will the SG grant permission to appeal? If the SG is smart, he will not, but you have to wonder.
11.26.2008 3:47pm
sds (mail):
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11.28.2008 8:48pm

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