Today is the sentencing hearing for Dharun Ravi in the Tyler Clementi case. Ravi has been convicted of invasion of privacy and bias intimidation.
Prosecutors in the case have been asking Superior Court Judge Glenn Berman to sentence Ravi to prison time. And of course there are a bunch of other people who want Ravi to pay the stiffest possible penalty.
I’ve been listening to the hearing all day. Let’s take a look at what happened…
Various UPDATES have been added after the jump. Refresh this post for the latest.
Let's hope nobody you make fun of ever decides to kill themselves. Otherwise you might end up like Ravi.
* So, your colleague or family member dies, suddenly, after allegedly being worked into the ground. But it’s my blog post about it that “turned the sad situation into a nightmare”? I think instead of lamenting for a fluff piece in a local paper, the media geniuses at Dinsmore should respond to a legitimate press inquiry. [West Virginia Record]
* The Dharun Ravi trial is under way. I’ll be calling it the Ravi trial, not the Tyler Clementi trial. Because Tyler Clementi is the kid that tragically killed himself, while Dharun Ravi is the very much alive person who has already had his life ruined even thought he didn’t kill anybody. [Metropolis]
* Are law firms finally starting to make money off of their investments in social media? [Legal Blog Watch]
As we mentioned in Friday’s Non-Sequiturs, the legal team of Dharun Ravi has moved to dismiss the criminal charges against Ravi stemming from the suicide of Tyler Clementi. As many of you know, Clementi committed suicide after Ravi streamed video of Clementi hooking up with another guy.
Lawyers to Dharun Ravi discovered comments from Clementi suggesting that Clementi was concerned about his parents’ reaction to his sexual orientation. Other Clementi messages are getting more headlines. According to New York Magazine, Clementi “also made jokes about Ravi’s family, calling them ‘sooo indian / first gen americanish…his rents defs owna dunkin [donuts].’ In other words, typical teen asshole gossip, on both sides.”
Typical is how I’ve been describing Ravi’s behavior from the very beginning. I didn’t need the system digging into the past of a suicide victim to determine whether his roommate “caused” him to take his own life.
But this is what many people wanted. So now that we’re here, I’m wondering if people are happy….
Molly Wei, the pretty ex-Rutgers student who was charged with two counts of invasion of privacy in the Tyler Clementi case, has reached a deal with the prosecution. Wei, 19, has been admitted to a pre-trial intervention program that could result in the charges against her being dismissed.
What does Wei have to do as part of the PTI program?
Last September, Rutgers freshman Tyler Clementi jumped off of the George Washington Bridge after his roommate, Dharun Ravi, surreptitiously recorded and then broadcast footage of Clementi hooking up in his room with another man.
Clementi’s death touched off an important national conversation about the bullying of gay teens and the need to reach out to them so they don’t feel so isolated. If anything good can come from Clementi’s suicide, it will be to make people commit to helping gays and lesbians as they struggle through adolescence and young adulthood in sometimes hostile communities.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t appear Tyler Clementi will be the only martyr for this cause. No, there are some people hellbent on making sure that another young life is effectively ruined, and some of those people work for the state of New Jersey.
Charges flowed out of the grand jury today for Clementi’s roommate and “tormentor,” Ravi. Based on the allegations in the indictment, you’d think Ravi had been running for the Republican nomination for President instead of acting like an 18-year-old college freshman…
I’m pretty sure we all saw this coming. The parents of Tyler Clementi — the Rutgers freshman who killed himself after his roommate taped and broadcast Tyler’s gay hook-up — have declared their intent preserved their right to sue the university. The Clementis suggest that the university failed to protect their son, articulating various tort claims against the school and even a breach of contract claim (Rutgers broke its agreement with Clementi by not preventing what happened to him). Damages are unspecified, but Clementi’s family is claiming pain and suffering, as well as loss of companionship.
(UPDATE: As Kash noted over at Forbes, the Clementi family just issued a statement “clarifying that they have not yet decided whether they will sue, but filed notice with the university today to preserve their right to sue in the future.” Hence the edit in the preceding paragraph.)
A lawsuit by the Clementis should surprise no one. Rutgers has much deeper pockets than Dharun Ravi, the roommate who used a webcam to broadcast Clementi’s affair, or Molly Wei, the girl who was in the room while Ravi messed with his roommate. Ravi and Wei have already been charged with invasion of privacy, and prosecutors are still trying to figure out if they can bootstrap hate crime charges against Ravi and Wei. But when it came to the civil lawsuits, this was always going to come down to the parents versus Rutgers.
Because when your kid jumps off a bridge, there just has to be somebody to blame….
* Reports of a hunter’s death may have been greatly exaggerated, but they don’t entitle him to a defamation award. [Courthouse News]
* “Thinking of a Career in Law? Hahaha!” (Or: the U.K. legal market sounds a whole lot like ours.) [Charon QC]
* Can a lawyer use publicly available information on Facebook in a pending case without friending the person? [Adjunct Law Prof Blog]
* Vanderbilt law professor and leading class-action scholar Richard Nagareda, R.I.P. [TortsProf Blog]
* Forget about bedbugs. The real question is: Have you douchebag-proofed your office? [TechnoLawyer]
* Somebody get John Locke on the phone, because law schools have broken the social contract. And trust me, you want this call going to Locke. Don’t make me fire up the Leviathan-signal and get Hobbes on your ass. [Law Librarian Blog]
* Alan Hevesi pleaded guilty. One corrupt New York politician down, only a few hundred more to go. [WSJ Law Blog]
Molly Wei didn't stop her friend for using her computer; now she could end up in jail.
Prosecutors looking into Tyler Clementi suicide indicated yesterday that they might not be able to charge Dharun Ravi and Molly Wei with a hate crime. Middlesex County Prosecutor Bruce Kaplan told the Newark Star-Ledger that his office was trying to see if they could charge Ravi and Wei with a second degree bias crime, but so far they don’t have enough evidence to support such a charge.
Right now, Ravi and Wei are charged with invasion of privacy, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in jail.
Given that some people have pushed for prosecution that goes all the way up to homicide charges, the possibility that Ravi and Wei won’t be charged with a hate crime (or burned at the stake, or whatever the hell will satisfy people’s revenge impulse) will disappoint many — perhaps including prosecutor Kaplan, who said: “Sometimes the laws don’t always adequately address the situation. That may come to pass here.”
And sometimes the public’s outrage completely outstrips the actual crime committed. I’ve already shared my thoughts about Dharun Ravi’s crime. Now let’s take a closer look at Molly Wei — a girl who, as far as we know, is guilty of letting a high school buddy use her computer…
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The last time I flapped my wings your way, I tried to make at least enough noise about your mobile phone to make you more than a little bit uncomfortable. I hope I did. If enough of us become anxious enough about the known and unknown unknowns and knowns in our mobile phones, then we can start making wise decisions about how to manage that information and its resultant investigations.
Today, I’d like to put a finer point on the last installment’s topic by asking a question that seemed to catch most attendees off-guard at a conference panel that I moderated last week: is there discoverable personal information in a mobile app? Our panelists’ answer was a uniform “yes” with one stating that, if he had to choose only one type of data that he could discover from a mobile phone, he’d choose app data. Why? Because there’s simply so much of it and because almost all of it is objective – not just user-created like an email – but machine-tracked like GPS, usage duration, log in and log out times, browsed web addresses, browsed actual addresses. Also, most of us seem to have the idea that data doesn’t actually “stick” to our mobile devices the way it “sticks” to our hard drives. Maybe there’s a disconnect based on the fact that our phones are mobile so we assume the data is mobile to?
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