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Florida Supreme Court upholds "harmful to minors" e-mail law
The biggest difference was that in those earlier lawsuits, the
plaintiffs were pillars of society including the American Library
Association, the Magazine Publishers of America, the Association of
American Publishers, and the Interactive Digital Software Association.
Having top-tier law firms from New York and Washington didn't hurt either.
In the Florida case, though, the person unsuccessfully assailing the law
was a far less sympathetic litigant named Michael John Simmons. He's
currently on probation after being charged with trying to pick up a "13
year old girl" named Sandi in an Internet chat room and arranging to
have sex in a motel room.
The judge who wrote the unanimous opinion was Justice Peggy Quince.
Quince undertook something akin to legal gyrations in an attempt to
differentiate the law that Simmons was charged with violating from the
nearly identical laws that courts have considered before. The New Mexico
statute, she said, was much more "broad." The Virginia law applied to
"all" forms of electronic communication, she said, not just e-mail. The
federal law targeted exclusively the Web, she wrote.
Then Quince ran into a second hurdle: the Florida statute explicitly
covers only e-mail, and Simmons used instant messaging in his chats with
"Sandi." So the justice decided the definition of e-mail should be
expanded to include "both email and electronic mail sent by instant
messaging," which let her uphold the lower court's sentence.
Posted by Declan McCullagh on Nov 17, 2006
in category free-speech
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