Lori Drew MySpace Suicide Conviction Overturned
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If you were among those who were upset by the criminal conviction of Lori Drew – the mother behind the MySpace incident that lead to the suicide of thirteen-year-old Megan Meier – you are either about to be relieved, or outraged, depending on where you stood on the case. Lori Drew, who had been facing felony charges due to her involvement in the case, received, instead, three misdemeanor convictions. Now a Federal court is overturning those convictions.

The primary reason that so many people were upset by the conviction of Lori Drew is because one of the convictions was based on her violation of the MySpace terms of service (TOS), and there was a “the sky is falling” response, with people worrying that it meant that violating a site’s terms of service could mean criminal prosecution for all.

The problem with the MySpace TOS conviction was that it was trying to fit a square crime into a round law.

Apparently Federal Judge George Wu agreed, asking, during the hearing, “Is a misdemeanor committed by the conduct which is done every single day by millions and millions of people? If these people do read [the terms of service] and still say they’re 40 when they are 45, is that a misdemeanor?”


The judge added that “It basically leaves it up to a website owner to determine what is a crime. And therefore it criminalizes what would be a breach of contract.”

In a tentative ruling issued by the Court on Thursday, just before the 4th of July holiday, Judge Wu made clear that he intends to overturn the convictions when his written ruling is issued.

As the judge spoke last Thursday, Megan’s mother, Tina Meier, was so upset that she had to leave the courtroom. Tina’s father, Ron Meier, was also there (the Meier’s marriage was split apart by the tragedy of their daughter taking her own life after Drew’s shenanigans), and tearfully told reporters that even though Drew may be acquitted, she had already been convicted by a jury of her peers, and “that itself is a victory.”

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The primary issue was that, as the crime was so relatively novel, the law has not caught up, and so prosecutors and the jury apparently felt their best (and perhaps only) options in the case were to hang convictions on the TOS violations. Ironically, Judge Wu told prosecutors that if Drew had been convicted of the felonies, instead, he would have not only let the convictions stand, but would have already sentenced Drew. But the problems with convicting her, criminally, on TOS violations, was too troubling.

In other words, the problem was in trying to fit a square crime into a round law.

Drew’s attorney, H. Dean Steward, gloated that “The Federal prosecutors in Los Angeles should be ashamed for having brought the case to trial,” adding that his client had moved out of her home state of Missouri after having become “an internet punching bag for almost three years,” and having been “tried, convicted and lynched by bloggers.”

 

No Paywall Here!
The Internet Patrol is and always has been free. We don't hide our articles behind a paywall, or restrict the number of articles you can read in a month if you don't give us money. That said, it does cost us money to run the site, so if something you read here was helpful or useful, won't you consider donating something to help keep the Internet Patrol free?
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