Careful Whom You Email!

Want to email professors asking them to take a stance on a particular college-related issue?  Not a safe idea if you attend Michigan State University.  The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (“FIRE”) reported last week that a member of the student government at M.S.U. was found guilty of violating the university’s “spam” policy, which prohibits the sending of an unsolicited email to more than 20-30 recipients over two days. 

The student emailed a hand-picked group of 391 faculty members (roughly eight percent of the total at M.S.U.), asking them to speak up about a proposal by the school administration to change the calendar.  What is truly mind-boggling about the decision to discipline that student is that the administration had itself solicited comments on the change from the faculty; the email was designed to encourage the faculty to take advantage of that offer.

At least this violation of a network’s terms of use policy wasn’t found criminal.

Continue ReadingCareful Whom You Email!

Seventh Circuit Week in Review: What Do a MySpace Predator, an Unrepresented Corporation, and a Pair of Meth Traffickers Have in Common?

Answer: They all lost their appeals in the Seventh Circuit last week.  In fact, our diligent Seventh Circuit judges issued five new opinions in criminal cases last week, and the defendants lost in all of them.  Here are the highlights:

In the MySpace case, United States v. Morris (No. 08-2329), the defendant attempted to contact a minor through the minor’s MySpace page.  The minor’s mother responded by creating her own MySpace page, in which she posed as a 15 year old, and began a series of communications with the defendant.  After the mom agreed to have sex with him, Morris mailed a bus ticket to her so that they could meet.  The mom reported Morris to the FBI, resulting in his arrest and prosecution.  After his conviction for attempting to transport a minor across state lines to engage in illegal sexual conduct, Morris raised a single issue on appeal: that the person he intended to transport across state lines was neither a minor nor a law enforcement officer posing as a minor, but a private citizen conducting her own sting operation.  However, it is well established in such cases that the defendant has no defense if his intended victim is really an undercover law enforcement officer, and the Seventh Circuit (per Judge Posner) found no basis for distinguishing undercover private citizens: in either situation, the criminal justice system appropriately punishes the defendant for his demonstrated dangerousness. 

Continue ReadingSeventh Circuit Week in Review: What Do a MySpace Predator, an Unrepresented Corporation, and a Pair of Meth Traffickers Have in Common?