Tuesday, April 10, 2007
Ind. Decisions - "MySpace Postings Are Free Speech" [Updated]
An AP story today by Charles Wilson, here picked up in the Houston Chronicle, reports on yesterday's Court of Appeals opinion in the case of A.B. v. State of Indiana (see ILB entry here). Some quotes:
INDIANAPOLIS — A judge violated a juvenile's free-speech rights when he placed her on probation for posting an expletive-laden entry on MySpace criticizing a school principal, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled.[Updated 4:00 pm] See also this report from theAP about a Hermitage, Pennsylvania "school principal [who] sued four former students who he claims posted parody MySpace.com profiles saying he smoked pot, kept beer at school and liked having sex with students."
The three-judge panel on Monday ordered the Putnam Circuit Court to set aside its penalty against the girl, referred to only as A.B. in court records.
"While we have little regard for A.B.'s use of vulgar epithets, we conclude that her overall message constitutes political speech," Judge Patricia Riley wrote in the 10-page opinion.
In February 2006, Greencastle Middle School Principal Shawn Gobert discovered a Web page on MySpace purportedly created by him. A.B., who did not create the page, made derogatory postings on it concerning the school's policy on body piercings.
The state filed a delinquency petition in March alleging that A.B.'s acts would have been harassment, identity deception and identity theft if committed by an adult. The juvenile court dropped most of the charges but in June found A.B. to be a delinquent child and placed her on nine months of probation. The judge ruled the comments were obscene.
A.B. appealed, arguing that her comments were protected political speech under both the state and federal constitutions because they dealt with school policy.
The Court of Appeals found that the comments were protected and that the juvenile court had unconstitutionally restricted her right of free expression.
Posted by Marcia Oddi on April 10, 2007 10:09 AM
Posted to Ind. App.Ct. Decisions