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Fruit of the forbidden tree? Peoria, IL judge says no.

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  • Fruit of the forbidden tree? Peoria, IL judge says no.

    http://www.theguardian.com/world/201...r-peoria-mayor

    Illinois judge rules police entitled to Swat raid over parody Twitter account

    The police hadn’t even come for him. When four fully-armed officers of a Swat team burst into Jacob Elliott’s house in Peoria, Illinois in April they were looking for the source of a parody Twitter feed that had upset the town’s mayor by poking fun at him.

    It transpired that one of Elliott’s housemates, Jon Daniel, had created the fake Twitter account, @peoriamayor, and so incensed the real-life official, Jim Ardis, with his make-believe account of drug binges and sex orgies that the police were dispatched. Elliott was just a bystander in the affair, but that didn’t stop the Swat team searching his bedroom, looking under his pillow and in a closet where they discovered a bag of marijuana and dope-smoking paraphernalia.

    Elliott now faces charges of felony marijuana possession. He has also become the subject of one of the more paradoxical – if not parody – questions in American jurisprudence: can a citizen be prosecuted for dope possession when the police were raiding his home looking for a fake Twitter account?

    A Peoria judge this week ruled that the police were entitled to raid the house on North University Street on 15 April under the town’s “false personation” law which makes it illegal to pass yourself off as a public official. Judge Thomas Keith found that police had probable cause to believe they would find materials relevant to the Twitter feed such as computers or flash drives used to create it.

    Daniel created the social media feed when he was bored one night and thought he would amuse himself and a handful of friends by deriding the mayor. In a stream of fake comments in 140 characters, he portrayed Ardis as a Tequila-sodden, sex- and drug-addicted oaf. “Im bout to climb the civic center and do some lines on the roof who’s in,” one tweet said.

    Daniel was never charged as the local prosecutor decided that “false personation” could only be committed in the flesh rather than through cyberspace. But his housemate, Elliott, still has the marijuana rap hanging over him and this week’s court ruling means that his attempt to have his charges dismissed on grounds that the original police raid was mistaken has failed.

    Meanwhile, Daniel has turned the law back against the authorities in Peoria, a town with a population of 120,000. With the help of the ACLU he has filed a lawsuit against the town for wrongful arrest.

    “You can’t do terrorist type of things or threaten people. But a simple joke, a parody, mocking somebody, that’s obviously not illegal,” he told Associated Press.

    As for the mayor, he has tried to justify his reaction to the Twitter spoof by claiming that it had damaged his standing. “My identity as mayor was stolen,” he said a few weeks after he dispatched the police.

    It is not known whether he now regrets his decision to send in the Swat team. One measure of its success is that there is no longer one parody feed ridiculing Ardis on Twitter – there are 15.

  • #2
    Originally posted by TheChef
    After hundreds of thousands of dollars spent by the Prosecution & the Defense, it'll get tossed. What a wise use of money.
    Yeah, I don't see how he'd lose the appeal.

    Comment


    • #3
      So the mayor sends the police because he got butthurt over a fake Twitter account?
      I yell "PIKACHU" before I tase someone.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by Rudy8116 View Post
        So the mayor sends the police because he got butthurt over a fake Twitter account?
        Apparently. That part doesn't surprise me. The fact that the police actually carried out his bidding, instead of bringing him up to speed on the first amendment, is what has me confused.

        Comment


        • #5
          Since the mayors of IL towns are conservators of the peace maybe he should have conducted his own raid and brought the charges.
          That's what they do, it's a trailer park.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by AvalancheZ71 View Post
            Since the mayors of IL towns are conservators of the peace maybe he should have conducted his own raid and brought the charges.
            Well yeah they are if they've completed the requisite training (the law doesn't say they aren't if they haven't although it says that about AG Inspectors) but how could he have had the time to do that while he was so busy partying?

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Carbonfiberfoot View Post
              Apparently. That part doesn't surprise me. The fact that the police actually carried out his bidding, instead of bringing him up to speed on the first amendment, is what has me confused.
              Apparently they did -- ACLU used a FOIA request to get the relevant emails -- here's an except from an article (here) including a snippet from the Chief of Police to the Mayor:

              Mayor/Manager, I reviewed this matter with Detective Feehan. He is in the process of shutting down the account as you saw from my last email. This phony Twitter account does not constitute a criminal violation in that no threats are made. I'm not sure if it would support a civil suit for defamation of character. I'm not an expert in the civil arena but my recollection is that public officials have very limited protection from defamation. I asked (Feehan) about identity theft and he advised it did not qualify because the statute requires the use of personal identifying information such as a social security number, DOB, etc., and a financial gain form (sic) the use of that information.

              Shortly after the raid and the ensuing debacle, the prosecutor dropped the (admittedly) bogus charges against Daniel.

              Peoria County State’s Attorney Jerry Brady decided the offender must commit false personation in person. Using that reasoning, he didn’t charge Jon Daniel, the creator of the parody account, who also lived at the house.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Monty Ealerman View Post
                Apparently they did -- ACLU used a FOIA request to get the relevant emails -- here's an except from an article (here) including a snippet from the Chief of Police to the Mayor:

                Mayor/Manager, I reviewed this matter with Detective Feehan. He is in the process of shutting down the account as you saw from my last email. This phony Twitter account does not constitute a criminal violation in that no threats are made. I'm not sure if it would support a civil suit for defamation of character. I'm not an expert in the civil arena but my recollection is that public officials have very limited protection from defamation. I asked (Feehan) about identity theft and he advised it did not qualify because the statute requires the use of personal identifying information such as a social security number, DOB, etc., and a financial gain form (sic) the use of that information.

                Shortly after the raid and the ensuing debacle, the prosecutor dropped the (admittedly) bogus charges against Daniel.

                Peoria County State’s Attorney Jerry Brady decided the offender must commit false personation in person. Using that reasoning, he didn’t charge Jon Daniel, the creator of the parody account, who also lived at the house.
                So, the police leadership knew that no law was being violated, yet acquired a warrant and authorized a raid anyway?

                If true, that is criminal, and 1000x worse than some kid with a bong.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Assuming this is being reported accurately, the cops should have told this mayor to eat a bag of dicks.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Carbonfiberfoot View Post
                    So, the police leadership knew that no law was being violated, yet acquired a warrant and authorized a raid anyway?

                    If true, that is criminal, and 1000x worse than some kid with a bong.
                    I am surprised that the chief has not yet had to explain his actions to the FBI. I was fortunate to have an intelligent, level-headed mayor when I was a chief. The last thing you would want to is to explain how after all those years of training and experience, you authorized an illegal raid because the mayor told you to. As soon as the paperwork is done, the mayor will have that chief under the bus.

                    Originally posted by Chomp View Post
                    Assuming this is being reported accurately, the cops should have told this mayor to eat a bag of dicks.
                    OR at least informed him that they could only obey a 'lawful order'.

                    “Truth is not what you want it to be; it is what it is, and you must bend to its power or live a lie.”

                    Miyamoto Musashi

                    “Life Is Hard, But It's Harder When You're Stupid”

                    George V. Higgins (from The Friends of Eddie Coyle)

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Carbonfiberfoot View Post
                      Apparently. That part doesn't surprise me. The fact that the police actually carried out his bidding, instead of bringing him up to speed on the first amendment, is what has me confused.
                      That's not an entirely true statement... In Texas it is against the law to pass ones self off as another on a social media site, and is actually a Third Degree Felony.

                      Sec. 33.07. ONLINE IMPERSONATION. (a) A person commits an offense if the person, without obtaining the other person's consent and with the intent to harm, defraud, intimidate, or threaten any person, uses the name or persona of another person to:
                      (1) create a web page on a commercial social networking site or other Internet website; or
                      (2) post or send one or more messages on or through a commercial social networking site or other Internet website, other than on or through an electronic mail program or message board program.
                      (b) A person commits an offense if the person sends an electronic mail, instant message, text message, or similar communication that references a name, domain address, phone number, or other item of identifying information belonging to any person:
                      (1) without obtaining the other person's consent;
                      (2) with the intent to cause a recipient of the communication to reasonably believe that the other person authorized or transmitted the communication; and
                      (3) with the intent to harm or defraud any person.
                      (c) An offense under Subsection (a) is a felony of the third degree. An offense under Subsection (b) is a Class A misdemeanor, except that the offense is a felony of the third degree if the actor commits the offense with the intent to solicit a response by emergency personnel.
                      (d) If conduct that constitutes an offense under this section also constitutes an offense under any other law, the actor may be prosecuted under this section, the other law, or both.
                      (e) It is a defense to prosecution under this section that the actor is any of the following entities or that the actor's conduct consisted solely of action taken as an employee of any of the following entities:
                      (1) a commercial social networking site;
                      (2) an Internet service provider;
                      (3) an interactive computer service, as defined by 47 U.S.C. Section 230;
                      (4) a telecommunications provider, as defined by Section 51.002, Utilities Code; or
                      (5) a video service provider or cable service provider, as defined by Section 66.002, Utilities Code.
                      (f) In this section:
                      (1) "Commercial social networking site" means any business, organization, or other similar entity operating a website that permits persons to become registered users for the purpose of establishing personal relationships with other users through direct or real-time communication with other users or the creation of web pages or profiles available to the public or to other users. The term does not include an electronic mail program or a message board program.
                      (2) "Identifying information" has the meaning assigned by Section 32.51
                      Why do we try so Hard for Little things, and so Little for Hard things?

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by BikeCop501 View Post
                        That's not an entirely true statement... In Texas it is against the law to pass ones self off as another on a social media site, and is actually a Third Degree Felony.
                        "(2) with the intent to cause a recipient of the communication to reasonably believe that the other person authorized or transmitted the communication; and
                        (3) with the intent to harm or defraud any person."

                        It looks like the TX code exempts satire as well. The higher courts have been pretty clear in regards to parody\satire and fair use.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Since when does a SWAT team consist of four members? Better yet, what is "fully armed"? Is that sort of like half ***ed? Maybe a different kind of entry team? What is a "forbidden tree"?

                          But the whole thing is still silly.
                          Last edited by So Fla Cop; 09-23-2014, 01:15 PM.
                          September 11, 2001 - All gave some, some gave all. Never forget -- Never forgive.......... RIP Brothers and Sisters.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by So Fla Cop View Post
                            Since when does a SWAT team consist of four members? Better yet, what is "fully armed"? Is that sort of like half ***ed? Maybe a different kind of entry team? What is a "forbidden tree"?

                            But the whole thing is still silly.
                            Yeah... I believe the correct legal term is actually fruit of the poisonous tree. I be dumb sumtimes and forgetted stuffs.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Man I am a felon. I confess right here. I have setup a Facebook page for my Cat. Glad I'm not from Texas or I might get arrested....

                              Comment

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