Just Another Guy with Opinions

Judge Overturns Lori Drew’s Conviction

Posted by shadmia on July 5, 2009

Lori Drew

The trial was over. Lori Drew, 50, had been convicted by a jury of three misdemeanor charges of gaining unauthorized access to MySpace computers. Click here for the background story.

She had been acquitted of three felony charges of violating the Federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. The jury had deadlocked on a remaining felony charge of conspiracy. All that remained was for U.S. District Judge George Wu, who presided over the case, to determine what her sentence would be. Lori Drew faced a maximum of 3 years in jail and a $30,000 fine.

But not so fast…..the judge decided that the jury conviction was wrong and over ruled them. Judge George Wu overturned the guilty verdicts against Lori Drew, issuing a directed acquittal on the three misdemeanor charges.  The judge reminded participants that it was only a tentative ruling until he files it in writing.

“It basically leaves it up to a website owner to determine what is a crime,” said Wu, echoing what critics of the case have been saying for months. “And therefore it criminalizes what would be a breach of contract.”

Wu told Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark Krause that if Drew had been convicted of the felonies, he would have let the convictions stand, and would have already sentenced her. But the misdemeanor convictions troubled him, because of the vague wording of the statute. “I don’t see how the misdemeanor aspect would be constitutional,” he said. “That is the issue I’m wrestling with at this time.

Because no facts are in dispute, only matters of legal interpretation, Wu had the power to override the jury’s verdict in the case.

Prosecutors have the option of appealing. They had already filed to have the deadlocked fourth conspiracy charge dismissed without prejudice, but indicated they could continue to pursue that charge as well.

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