Legal Research Blog


Myspace Bully Charged With Wrong Crime

We’ve all heard about the famous case that brought the concept of cyber bullying to our attention. When two Missouri teens failed to resolve their dispute, one of the teens’ mother, Lori Drew, got involved by creating a false Myspace account under the name “Josh Evans.” With this account, Drew befriended – and eventually emotionally devastated – her daughter’s former friend, Megan.  Megan, a 13-year-old Missouri girl, hanged herself after her online friend “Josh Evans,” sent Megan a message over Myspace, telling her that he did not want to be friends with her and that the world would be better off without her.

Prosecutors charged Lori Drew with  a violation of Section 1030 of the U.S. Code – which is designed to protect against unauthorized access to computer networks to cause damage, steal information or money or jeopardize national security. The legal theory behind the charge was that Drew violated MySpace’s terms of service which prohibit misrepresenting your identity and harassing others. Despite some outcries in the legal community over setting bad precedent by misuse of the statute, the jury convicted Drew of misdemeanor violations. The jury, however, did not convict Drew on felony charges.

Some legal experts argue that no current law, including 1030 of the U.S. Code,was not designed to prevent people from lying about their identity, or otherwise violating rules on a publicly available online service. Andrea Matwyshyn, a law professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton Business School stated, “Empowering terms of use to be key pieces of evidence in criminal matters — when terms of use are generally thought of by the people who are entering into them as purely contract or civil matters — is something that should be done carefully. I think you’re going to have strong disagreement as to whether this is an advisable course to take.”

Source: CBS News


Barbie won again in federal court last week.  As a result of the verdict, MGA has been ordered to stop producing its popular “Bratz” dolls and to stop selling them by February 2009.  MGA must also reimburse its suppliers.  Additionally, at that time, it must turn over all unsold inventory to Mattel – the company that makes Barbie.

In July, Mattel was ruled the rightful owner of the Bratz brand (and of $90 million in damages) because Bratz creator Carter Bryant thought of Bratz while working for Mattel under an exclusivity contract.   
In theory, the four-year long legal battle could be over.  This February, Judge Stephen Larson plans to consider post-trial motions.   

Oral Arguments: When does a traffic stop end?

The Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Arizona v. Johnson today.  As reported in our original post, the case centered around a traffic stop where an officer patted down the passenger who did not appear to have committed a crime, but did appear to be armed and dangerous.   Following argument, there appear to be two major issues for the justices to debate:

1) Is the passenger “seized” when riding in a car pulled over by police?
2) What are the requirements for a valid search under Terry v. Ohio?
For the state, Assistant Arizona Attorney General Joseph Parkhurst argued that for a search to be constitutional under Terry v. Ohio and subsequent opinions, the officer need only reasonably believe that the searched is armed and dangerous.  For the defendant, Andrew Pincus argued that a officer must believe both that a the searched is armed and dangerous AND that criminal activity is afoot. 
Interestingly, and for the first time, the Supreme Court may now need to decide when a traffic stop begins and ends.  A sizable portion of the argument centered around whether Johnson, the passenger was seized during the traffic stop as well as the larger issue of when a traffic stop actually begins and ends.  In fact, to rule here, the court may actually have to decide when a traffic stop begins and ends.  
Read the transcript of the argument here.
Source: SCOTUS Wiki

Free Book of the Month:Commentaries on the Laws of England

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This book was sourced from Google Books.