ends, means, and justice

I had to sit through an hour of talk radio yesterday regarding the Drew case (I didn’t have my cell phone, so I couldn’t call in myself). the host was railing against the Los Angeles prosecutor going after a Missouri woman — “that’s not within his jurisdiction!”

I understand his concern about prosecutorial overreach, but the indictment charges Drew with illegally accessing MySpace’s computers, which are located in Los Angeles County. so the geographical aspect is legit.

the scary thing was the attitude of about half the callers — that it didn’t matter what legal maneuvering was used, as long as Lori Drew was found guilty and sent to jail then justice will have been served; the ends justifies the means, and these callers were ready to be judge, jury, and executioner.
that’s not the way things work in America.

the radio host’s biggest fear was that this prosecution would become legal precedent and open the flood gates to similar charges based not on the offensive act (in this case, the psychological manipulation) but the use of a service to commit the act — so if we’re in Virginia and I harass you with a Verizon phone, the New York attorney could prosecute you because Verizon is headquartered in New York. (he misunderstood the nature of the charges: “illegally accessing MySpace’s computers”). he used Elliott Spitzer as an example, who would charge firms if their financial transactions ever passed through New York (and most did pass through Wall Street).

I don’t see that being a problem — if this case makes it to trial, I don’t think they’ll succeed. and if it does, there are several levels of appeal before the case can be used as a precedent.

so what about justice? what would be a just outcome for this situation?

unfortunately, I don’t know what criminal charges would stick against Drew — if there were any, prosecutors would have come up with them over a year ago when this case initially flared up. I imagine the vicitm’s parents could bring a wrongful death lawsuit against Drew (even O.J. was found liable of ‘wrongful death’), but I can understand why the parents would not want to go through the ordeal when it won’t bring their daughter back.

locking up Drew on illegitimate charges isn’t justice — it’s injustice on top of injustice.

tomorrow: where I fear this case is leading us…

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