Criminal

Los Terroristas de Twitter?

Imagine you live in a country where criminal attacks on civilians are alarmingly familiar, and reliable reporting from the local media is regrettably unfamiliar.  You hear about an attack on your local school, so you take to the Internet to spread the word on Facebook and Twitter to warn people before it's too late.  Mercifully, the report you heard was mistaken, and everything's okay...

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Baby Brady Photos Removed, But Did AG's Office Overstep Its Bounds?

If you've been living in Boston, you've undoubtedly heard the recent uproar over a local website publishing a photo of Ben Brady, the 20-month-old son of New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and supermodel Gisele Budchen, playing with his parents on a Costa Rican beach.

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CMLP and Cyberlaw Clinic Ask Supreme Judicial Court to Affirm Public Right of Access to Inquest Records

With the help of Harvard Law School's Cyberlaw Clinic, the Citizen Media Law Project and a coalition of New England media and advocacy organizations submitted an amicus curiae brief last week to the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, seeking to ensure a public right of access to inquest materials that will allow journalists, bloggers, and other news gatherers to inform citizens on matters of public concern.

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7th Circuit Holds Blogger Can Be Prosecuted For Threatening Juror

An alleged white supremacist can be prosecuted under a federal solicitation statute for posting on his blog the name, address and photograph of a juror who helped convict the "leader of a white supremacist organization" of soliciting the murder of a federal district court judge and obstruction of justice, the federal Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals held in a ruling in late June. U.S. v. White, No. 09-2916 (7th Cir. 2010).

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Search Warrants in the Sky: FBI Collects Info from Google Docs

If you spend any time at all online, you've probably seen—and, depending on the effectiveness of your spam filters, received in your email—ads extolling the supposed virtues of acai berry, a so-called "super food" that has been a big seller for the past couple of years.

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Right for the Wrong Reasons: DC Court of Appeals Vacates 30-Year Computer Ban

Cyanide and Happiness, a daily webcomicIt is hard to know how to feel when a court does the right thing for the wrong reasons.  On April 2, in United States v. Russell, the D.C. Court of Appeals vacated an immutable 30-year computer and Internet ban as a condition for the supervised release of a sex offender.

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Paving Hell: ACTA Encourages Oppression from Friend and Foe Alike

The drafting of the Anti-Counterfeit Trade Agreement (ACTA) isn’t going so well.

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France v. Weiler

Date: 

09/28/2008

Threat Type: 

Criminal Charge

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

Joseph Weiler

Type of Party: 

Government

Type of Party: 

Individual

Court Type: 

International

Court Name: 

Paris Criminal Tribunal

Publication Medium: 

Website

Status: 

Pending

Description: 

In September 2008, New York University law professor Joseph Weiler was summoned to appear before a French Examining Judge in connection with a complaint of alleged criminal libel made by Dr. Karin Calvo-Goller, a senior lecturer at the Academic Centre of Law and Business in Israel.  Professor Weiler will appear for trial before the Paris Criminal Tribunal in June 2010.

Professor Weiler is the editor in chief of the European Journal of International Law and the affiliated book review sites, Global Law Books and European Law Books. In 2007, Global Law Books published a book review written by Professor Thomas Weigend, Director of the Cologne Institute of Foreign and International Criminal Law and Dean of the Faculty of Law at the University of Cologne.  Professor Weigend reviewed Dr. Calvo-Goller's book, The Trial Proceedings of the International Criminal Court. ICTY and ICTR Precedents, and criticized it as an "exercise in rehashing the existing legal set-up" and "unproductive," among other things. 

In June 2007, Dr. Calvo-Goller wrote to Professor Weiler in his capacity as editor of Global Law Books, requesting that he remove Professor Weigend's review from the site. Her letter detailed several perceived factual inaccuracies in the review, claiming that it went "beyond the expression of an opinion, fair comment and criticism" and contained "false factual statements which the author of the review, a professor of criminal law, could not reasonably believe to be true." It also claimed that "[t]he review is an indirect insult to former ICTY and actual ICC officials, defense counsel of the ICTY and ICTR, who took the time to read and comment on previous drafts of the book."

In a response to Dr. Calvo-Goller, Professor Weiler declined to remove the review, expressing his sympathy for Dr. Calvo-Goller's hurt feelings, but also pointing out the unorthodox character of the request:

 I have seen all manner of reviews and from time to time received letters from unhappy authors. In these long years of experience I have never received a letter such as yours both in content and tone. It departs from what in my view are considered common conventions of academic discourse and academic publication.

. . . 

It is a very extreme request to ask for a critical review to be removed. I could imagine acceding to such a request only in most egregious circumstances of, say, bad faith, conflict of interest etc. In reviewing a complaint such as yours the task of the editor is not to engage in a de novo review, but to assess whether the review falls into one of those extreme categories of egregious unreasonableness.

After noting Professor Weigend's distinguished professional credentials and addressing each specific factual/substantive contention in turn, Professor Weiler concluded that removing the review was not justified:

My conclusion from this preliminary enquiry is that the heavy burden needed in my eyes to suppress a book review has not been met. In fact not even a prima facie case has been made. I found nothing to impugn the integrity or professionalism of the reviewer and, independently of whether or not I share his opinions or conclusions on your book, I must decline your request to suppress the book review by removing it from the site. 

Professor Weiler also explained that he would forward Dr. Calvo-Goller's comments to Professor Weigend and would consider a request by Professor Weigend, if any, to change the review. Professor Weiler also pointed out the comment feature on the website and suggested that it would be "perfectly in order for you to write a comment which, after editorial approval, could be posted on the website and seen by anyone who reads the review."

Professor Weigend declined to make any changes, Dr. Calvo-Goller posted no comment, and Professor Weiler stood by Professor Weigend's decision.

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Will Italy's Conviction of Google Execs Stick?

I've no doubt that CMLP blog readers, fellow netizens that you are, are well aware of an Italian court's conviction last week of three Google executives for invasion of privacy of an Italian teenager. 

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New York v. The (Chester) Chronicle

Date: 

10/01/2009

Threat Type: 

Subpoena

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

The (Chester) Chronicle

Type of Party: 

Government

Type of Party: 

Organization
Media Company

Court Type: 

State

Court Name: 

Supreme Court of the State of New York, Orange County

Legal Counsel: 

Laura Handman - Davis Wright Tremaine

Publication Medium: 

Website

Status: 

Concluded

Disposition: 

Subpoena Quashed

Description: 

In October 2009, an Orange County grand jury subpoenaed The (Chester) Chronicle for information about the identities of two anonymous posters to its website. The comments in question related to the controversial tenure of Helen Anne Livingston, the Chester schools superintendent, according to recordonline.com.

The subpoena came after a series of informal requests from local public officials to have comments removed from the site and to reveal IP addresses of the posters.  According to The Chronicle, before the subpoena issued, a Chester police officer came to the newspaper's office requesting the same information.

In February 2010, Orange County Court Judge Nicholas De Rosa granted The Chronicle's motion to quash the subpoena, ruling that the government had not shown that the identities of the commenters were critical to an investigation before the grand jury. 

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Does This Look Infected to You? Government Virus as Counter-Proposal to FBI's URL Demands

So here is a nice and scary development. It appears that the FBI wants Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to keep a log of the url's visited by consumers. Wait it gets better.

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Each Man an Island? Record Industry Denies that Three Strikes Ban Will Be Collective Punishment

No man is an island, no man stands alone
Each man's joy is joy to me
Each man's grief is my own
We need one another, so I will defend
Each man as my brother
Each man as my friend

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The Free Citizen as a Nuisance

"I'm willing to admit that the policeman has a difficult job, a very hard job. But it's the essence of our society that the policeman's job should be hard. He's there to protect, protect the free citizen, not to chase criminals, that's an incidental part of his job. The free citizen is always more of a nuisance to the policeman than the criminal. He knows what to do about the criminal." - Orson Welles

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The Digital Riddle: When Sex Laws Meet the Internet, Confusion Reigns

Predictability is important when it comes to the law. Citizens should know what sort of punishment they should expect for engaging in criminal behavior. If offends our notions of justice when wildly different sentences are handed down for similar crimes.

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Grayson v Langley

Date: 

12/15/2009

Threat Type: 

Other

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

Angie Langley

Type of Party: 

Individual

Type of Party: 

Individual

Court Type: 

Other

Publication Medium: 

Website

Relevant Documents: 

Status: 

Pending

Description: 

Representative Alan Grayson (D-Fla.) sent a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder requesting an investigation of Angie G. Langley for violating 18 U.S.C. § 1001 by falsely representing to the Federal Elections Commission that her PAC "supports or opposes more than one candidate," when in fact it only opposes Grayson.  Grayson points to the website for the PAC—MyCongressmanIsNuts.com—as evidence that Langely only opposes him, and also claims that the website falsely implies that Langley is a constituent of Grayson's, when in fact she lives outside his district. 

The "About Us" section of the website reads: 

Central Floridians formed My Congressman Is Nuts PAC as a response to the outrage and embarrassment within Central Florida over Alan Grayson's liberal positions and childish approach in Washington, D.C. We could no longer sit by and accept his inappropriate behavior and leftist big government agenda. He does not represent the values of Central Florida.

To be successful, we need your help. Please join our effort by making a contribution today! Through paid advertising and grassroots activities, we will hold Alan Grayson accountable for his votes and actions. 

It is not clear whether the Attorney General has taken any action in response to Grayson's letter. 

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United States v. Madison

Date: 

09/24/2009

Threat Type: 

Criminal Charge

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

Elliott Madison (Elliot Madison); Michael Wallschlaeger; Elena Madison; Jennifer Sobolewski; James Weiss, Irina Weiss; Maik Hasenbank

Type of Party: 

Government

Type of Party: 

Individual

Court Type: 

Federal
State

Court Name: 

Pennsylvania Court of Common Pleas; U.S. District Court Eastern District of New York (Brooklyn)

Case Number: 

1:09-mc-00647-DLI (federal)

Legal Counsel: 

Martin R. Stolar (primary in New York); Claudia Davidson

Publication Medium: 

Micro-blog

Relevant Documents: 

Status: 

Pending

Disposition: 

Withdrawn

Description: 

Elliott Madison (also spelled as Elliot Madison), along with Michael Wallschlaeger, was arrested by the Pennsylvania state police after using Twitter messages to relay information from police scanners and maps to protestors of the G-20 summit in Pittsburgh. They were charged with "hindering apprehension or prosecution, criminal use of a commnication facility, and possession of instruments of crime". According to Martin Stolar, Madison's attorney, the charge of hindering prosecution arose from the fact that Madison announced that the police had issued an order to disperse to the protestors.

A week after the G-20 summit arrest, Joint Terrorism Task Force agents searched Madison's New York home and seized his property, including his computers and the records he keeps for his occupation as a mental health facility counselor. Elena Madison, Jennifer Sobolewski, Michael Wallschlaeger, James Weiss, Irina Weiss, and Maik Hasenbank were also residents of this address at the time. The search warrant used in the search "asked for evidence that indicated...[potential] violations of federal rioting laws." If Madison is found guilty of violating the rioting law (18 U.S.C. §2101), he could face a penalty of up to five years in prison. Madison asked the court for a temporary order to prevent officials from examining the seized property until the court had the opportunity to examine the search warrant.  He also filed a motion to recover the seized property. Stolar argued that the search was unconstitutional and violated Madison's free speech rights. However, an Eastern District New York judge ruled that the government's search was not illegal and lifted the temporary stay, finding that the search warrant was "sufficiently particular and in compliance with the First Amendment".

The criminal charges in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania were dropped after the New York investigation commenced, as the law enforcement agencies felt that the G-20 activities "were not isolated incidents." Madison has not been charged in New York yet, and although he has attempted to appeal the court's order, officials are not prohibited from examining the property that they seized.

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CMLP Notes: 

EK - editing [11/24/09]

Priority: 

1-High

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Man Bites Dog: Prosecutor Pays a Price for Chasing Commenters

When a dog bites a man, that is not news, because it happens so often. But if a man bites a dog, that is news. — attributed to  New York Sun city editor John B.

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United States v Indymedia.us

Date: 

01/23/2009

Threat Type: 

Subpoena

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

Kristina Clair

Type of Party: 

Government

Type of Party: 

Individual

Court Type: 

Federal

Court Name: 

United States District Court for the District of Indiana

Case Number: 

09-01-DLP-15-10

Verdict or Settlement Amount: 

$0.00

Legal Counsel: 

Kevin Bankston - Electronic Frontier Foundation

Publication Medium: 

Website

Relevant Documents: 

Status: 

Concluded

Disposition: 

Withdrawn

Description: 

In January 2009, Kristina Clair received a grand jury subpoena issued upon application of the United States Attorney for the District of Indiana, Timothy M. Morrison. Ms. Clair is a Linux administrator living in Philadelphia who provides free server space for Indymedia.us, an independent news aggregation site with a left-of-center activist orientation. 

The subpoena demanded "all IP traffic to and from www.indymedia.us" on June 25, 2008.  It instructed Ms. Clair to "include IP addresses, times, and any other identifying information," including email addresses, telephone numbers, records of session times and durations, physical addresses, registered accounts, and financial information.  The subpoena also prohibited Ms. Clair from disclosing "the existence of this request unless authorized by the Assistant U.S. Attorney." 

Ms. Clair contacted the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which agreed to represent her.  Kevin Bankston of EFF sent a letter to Doris L. Pryor, the Assistant United States Attorney on the case, explaining that Ms. Clair did not possess the information requested, objecting that the subpoena was not personally served on Ms. Clair, and arguing that disclosure of the requested information would require a court order under federal electronic privacy law.  Further, the letter pointed out that grand jury secrecy requirements do not reach witnesses or prospective witnesses, and therefore the government had no basis to restrain Ms. Clair's speech about the existence of the subpoena.

U.S. Attorney Morrison replied 12 days letter with a one sentence letter informing Bankston that the subpoena had been withdrawn.

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