CRIMINAL CASE: U.S. v. Drew, Crim. No. 08-00582 (C.D. Cal. indictment filed May 15, 2008).
Status: conviction on three misdemeanor charges, acquittal on three of the felony charges, hung jury on one felony charge (C.D. Cal. Nov. 30, 2008); felony charge dismissed (Dec. 31, 2008); convictions rev'd on post-trial motions (preliminary ruling July 2, 2009).

Lori Drew created a fake MySpace page as part of scheme to find out how a particular 13-year-old girl felt about the woman’s daughter. She posed as a boy who flirted online with Megan Meier for a month. Then another girl who had a password to the account began sending nasty e-mails to Megan, and sent an e-mail breaking off the apparent relationship. Megan then committed suicide.

In early December 2007, St. Charles County prosecuting attorney Jack Banas announced that there was insufficient evidence to file harassment, stalking or child endangerment charges against Drew. Federal prosecutors in Missouri also said there was no basis for prosecution.

But in May 2008 a federal grand jury in California issued an indictment for conspiracy and computer fraud. The indictment claims jurisdiction with the California court based on the location of MySpace’s headquarters. On June 12. 2008, Drew pleaded not guilty. In August, the Electronic Frontier Foundation submitted a brief seeking dismissal of the case, arguing that the prosecution is misapplying a federal computer fraud statute.

In late November a jury convicted Drew of three misdemeanor charges of accessing MySpace’s computers without authorization in order to obtain information about the 13-year-old, acquitted her of three felony charges of unauthorized access to MySpace's servers in order to cause emotional distress, and reached a deadlock on one felony charge of conspiracy (which was dismissed at request of the prosecutor).

In July 2009, the judge threw out the convictions in a preliminary ruling on post-trial motions, with a written decision forthcoming.

The prosecutor filed a notice of appeal in late September 2009, but requires approval from U.S. Solicitor General Elena Kagan before the appeal proceeds.

Links and Court Documents:
No charges to be filed over Meier suicide Prosecutor says MySpace hoax doesn't cross criminal threshold (St. Charles, Mo. Journal,  Dec. 3, 2007)
A Hoax Turned Fatal Draws Anger but No Charges (New York Times,  Nov. 28, 2007)
L.A. grand jury issues subpoenas in Web suicide case (Los Angeles Times, Jan. 9, 2008)
Woman pleads innocent in Myspace hoax suicide case (Reuters, June 16, 2008)
EFF urges judge to dismiss MySpace case (CNet News, Aug. 4, 2008)
Govt: Cyberbullying is a New Phenomenon, as is Social Networking (Wall Street Journal Law Blog, Aug. 13, 2008)
Judge tentatively refuses to dismiss Internet case (Associated Press, Sept. 4, 2008)
Judge Throws Out Conviction in Cyberbullying Case (New York Times, July 2, 2009)
Prosecutor Dismisses Felony Charge In MySpace Case (Online Media Daily,  Jan. 2, 2009)
Drew Case May Go To Higher Court (Online Media Daily, Sept. 28, 2009)
Prosecutors Drop Plans to Appeal Lori Drew Case (Wired "Threat Level" blog, Nov. 20, 2009).
>> EFF amicus brief

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