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Lori Drew's Trial Date in MySpace Case Postponed Again

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Lori Drew's trial date, which was scheduled for October 7, has been postponed once again. U.S. District Court Judge George Wu decided Tuesday to postpone the trial in order to to consider the defense's motion to dismiss the case.

The trial was already postponed once from July 29 to Oct. 7. In the Wall Street Journal Law Blog, Drew's attorney "predicts the trial date will get pushed back to December." The charges against Drew stem from the MySpace "suicide hoax" which many people believe led to the death of 13 year-old Megan Meier.

The Wall Street Journal contacted Lori Drew's attorney, H. Dean Steward regarding their law blog's plans to cover the trial. Steward told them that "at what was supposed to be a pre-trial conference" Judge Wu had informed both prosecutor AUSA Mark Krause and himself that "he was having trouble with a few issues."

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In a July argument for pretrial dismissal, Drew's lawyer, H. Dean Steward, raised three issues. Two of which were rejected at a Sept. 4 hearing, when Wu said that the law being used against Drew is not unconstitutionally vague and does not improperly delegate prosecutorial power to the owner of a website.

Internet Business Law Services states, "The third has been a sticking point: whether Drew's indictment showed that she had accessed a protected computer without authorization."

During the recent hearing, Steward said Judge Wu requested briefing on the following three issues:

What terms of service matter? Are all violations of the Myspace terms of service tantamount to the "unauthorized access" required by the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act? If not, who decides which violations are relevant? MySpace? A jury? Or the court?

MySpace's Terms of Service (TOS) require a user to agree to provide "truthful and accurate registration information" and "refrain from promoting information that" she knew was "false or misleading." Drew has been charged with "conspiracy to access MySpace without authorization" because she violated the TOS.

According to Steward, Judge Wu says it appears the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act is to prohibit theft of information. Judge Wu is asking what it is alleged Lori Drew stole. However nowhere in the indictment is theft mentioned. There were also questions about the interstate issue since the alleged illegal authorization occurred in Missouri and the charges were filed in California.

Comments on the WSJ Law Blog overwhelmingly support the position that what Drew did was morally, but not legally wrong. There are a number of issues with the appropriateness of the charges. According to one comment, "The Prosecution has crossed the Rubicon. There is no turning back."

More on the subject:

Only her Hairdresser Knows for Sure

File this under "It's about Friggin Time"

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Over at computerworld.com John Brandon considers the need for a moral code for internet use

Wired Safety has a cyberbullying hotline in the works

AP Photo/Los Angeles Times of Judge George Wu, Jan. 19, 2006, in Los Angeles (Robert Gauthier)