State of Utah v. Ian Lake

NOTE: The information and commentary contained in this database entry are based on court filings and other informational sources that may contain unproven allegations made by the parties. The truthfulness and accuracy of such information is likely to be in dispute. Information contained in this entry is current as of the last event mentioned in the "Description" section below; additional proceedings might have taken place in this matter since this event.

Summary

Threat Type: 

Criminal Charge

Date: 

05/18/2000

Status: 

Concluded

Location: 

Utah

Disposition: 

Dismissed (total)

Verdict or Settlement Amount: 

N/A
In May 2000, Beaver County Utah deputies seized Ian Lake’s computer and arrested the 16-year-old Milford High School student.  Lake was charged with one count of criminal libel in violation of Utah Code section 76-9-502 and one count of criminal slander for... read full description
Parties

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

Ian Lake

Type of Party: 

Government

Type of Party: 

Individual

Location of Party: 

  • Utah

Location of Party: 

  • Utah

Legal Counsel: 

Stephen C. Clark, Janelle P. Eurick, Richard A. Van Wagoner, Robert J. Shelby
Description

In May 2000, Beaver County Utah deputies seized Ian Lake’s computer and arrested the 16-year-old Milford High School student.  Lake was charged with one count of criminal libel in violation of Utah Code section 76-9-502 and one count of criminal slander for imputing unchastity to a female in violation of Utah Code section 76-9-507 after posting derogatory comments on a website that he created at home. Lake referred to several students’ sexual history and also accused his high school principal of being the “town drunk” and having an affair with the school secretary, according to filings in the case.

Utah's criminal libel statute states that "a person is guilty of libel if he intentionally and with a malicious intent to injure another publishes or procures to be published any libel." The crime, a misdemeanor, carries a penalty of six months in jail and a $1,000 fine.  Lake spent seven days in a juvenile detention facility. The state later dropped the slander charge but continued to pursue a libel conviction.   

On July 31, 2001, the ACLU of Utah filed a motion to dismiss Lake’s criminal charges on the ground that Utah’s criminal libel statute is unconstitutional on its face.

On January 23, 2001, Fifth District Juvenile Court Judge Joseph E. Jackson denied the motion to dismiss, but acknowledged that it “raises serious and substantial questions about the facial validity of Utah’s criminal libel statute, that there is some merit for the position that the statute is unconstitutional, and that there is no just reason for delay in certifying the court’s denial of the Motion to Dismiss for immediate appeal.”  He referred the case to the Utah Supreme Court.  

On November 15, 2002, the Utah Supreme Court unanimously ruled that the state’s criminal libel law was unconstitutional.

Details

Content Type: 

  • Text

Publication Medium: 

Website

Subject Area: 

  • Defamation
  • Criminal
  • Student Speech
Court Information & Documents

Jurisdiction: 

  • Utah

Source of Law: 

  • Utah

Court Name: 

Fifth District Juvenile Court, Beaver County, State of Utah

Court Type: 

State

Case Number: 

No. 20010159 (Utah Supreme Ct.)

Relevant Documents: 

CMLP Information (Private)

Threat Source: 

Court Filings