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Misdemeanor Plea Ends Norwich Pornography Case

Soulskill posted more than 5 years ago | from the much-ado-about-nothing dept.

The Courts 260

An anonymous reader writes with this excerpt from the Hartford Courant: "Almost 18 months after a pornography conviction that could have sent her to jail for 40 years was thrown out, former Norwich substitute teacher Julie Amero plead guilty to a single charge of disorderly conduct Friday afternoon. The plea deal before Superior Court Judge Robert E. Young in Norwich ends a long-running drama that attracted attention from around the world. ... She had originally been charged with 10 counts of risk of injury to a minor and later convicted on four of them. ... In June of 2007, Judge Hillary B. Strackbein tossed out Amero's conviction on charges that she intentionally caused a stream of 'pop-up' pornography on the computer in her classroom and allowed students to view it. Confronted with evidence compiled by forensic computer experts, Strackbein ordered a new trial, saying the conviction was based on 'erroneous' and 'false information.'"

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260 comments

About Time (3, Interesting)

digitrev (989335) | more than 5 years ago | (#25858487)

Although I'm kind of curious what the charge of disorderly conduct was for.

Re:About Time (4, Insightful)

kobaz (107760) | more than 5 years ago | (#25858499)

It's about "making an example" rather than finding the truth and having the case dismissed entirely.

Re:About Time (5, Insightful)

rtfa-troll (1340807) | more than 5 years ago | (#25858579)

I'm not sure it's really so much "making an example" as avoiding any compensation claims. She's been unfairly prosecuted. Everything the prosecutor said outside the court could have been sued over since, if she was innocent, it would have been proven slanderous. Now she has one charge and an easy risk of getting into more trouble if she opens up any further court action. I think it's more about protecting one particular prosecutor by keeping her out of the way than any particular global message.

Re:About Time (4, Interesting)

kobaz (107760) | more than 5 years ago | (#25858657)

I agree that could very well be... But we all know that society's stance on "adult content" is ridiculous.

Had the teacher's computer shown pictures of guns, or someone getting maimed from styleproject, this would have never gone to court. If it had gotten any media attention at all, it would have been 10 seconds on the nightly news about a computer mishap.

Re:About Time (1)

Grimbleton (1034446) | more than 5 years ago | (#25859101)

Well, guns aren't prohibited from minors viewing them, and I don't seem to remember anything about gore...

(Not that I agree with porn being an 18+ thing. I love porn, and have since I was about 11-12 but, as they say, "It is what it is.")

Re:About Time (1)

argiedot (1035754) | more than 5 years ago | (#25859401)

What on earth is styleproject? Ironically, the first google result [google.co.in] for that is Stile Project, which advertises itself as having 'free sex pics'.

Re:About Time (1)

kobaz (107760) | more than 5 years ago | (#25859451)

Er, yeah... stileproject. It shows you how non-often I visit that site...

I was referring to the stileproject-esque shock pictures... a tame one being something like: http://static.stileproject.com/rnd/img/tum7.jpg [stileproject.com]

Re:About Time (1)

cheftw (996831) | more than 5 years ago | (#25859773)

If the above link just shows the name of the site then you have to change the number, or just continue to live a happy life.

Re:About Time (5, Interesting)

maz2331 (1104901) | more than 5 years ago | (#25858953)

Actually, there are prosecutors and cops out there who will keep going after every case until they get "something" out of it. Even after an acquittal, they will basically put the defendant under a microscope and keep dragging them in on new charges until they get some sort of a guilty plea or conviction.

This is really common with organized crime prosecutions, with John Gotti being a textbook example. It took several tries, but they did finally get him.

Re:About Time (2, Insightful)

British (51765) | more than 5 years ago | (#25859589)

I'm curious what they are making an example of. It seems that the gross IT incompetence at the school is now getting other people possibly sent to jail, even if they didn't do anything. You have to love computers in schools. They have un-maintained PCs, you have no authority to do anything, and no waiver you can sign saying you can't be sued for any damages. But if a porn pop-up happens and you're within 3 feet of it, you're busted.

Re:About Time (5, Insightful)

TheGavster (774657) | more than 5 years ago | (#25858515)

That was so that the justice system could point to something and say "See! She IS a deviant! We didn't incarcerate an innocent and waste everyone's time and taxdollars over something that is frivolous by inspection!".

Re:About Time (5, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 5 years ago | (#25858827)

"Casting doubt on the effectiveness of state apparatus".

I'm joking, of course; but it seems that, if your case has made the system look sufficiently foolish, you can't be allowed to get away completely.

Re:About Time (5, Insightful)

lysergic.acid (845423) | more than 5 years ago | (#25859127)

this is a clear case of criminal negligence. and i'm not talking about the teacher. i'm talking about the judge, the police, and the prosecutor who, either through malice or incompetence, tried to lock an innocent woman up for 40 years.

at the very least they should be fired from their posts. anyone with even the slightest shred of reason and experience using a computer could see how idiotic it is punish someone for browser pop-ups she had no control over. if anything, it should be the site owners who use pornographic pop-ups with indiscretion or install adware/malware on the computers of unsuspecting users who should have been put on trial.

if a teacher can be tried for unprofessional/disorderly conduct and lose her teaching license based on things which she had no reasonable control over, then those involved in the earlier case decision can certainly be fired for their actions which they had full conscious control over, and which have actually resulted in real harm--ending the career of an innocent school teacher and generally ruining her life.

the scary thing is, the state's attorney still thinks she should have been put away. and that guy is still the New London County state's attorney.

Justice Still Not Done (5, Insightful)

JimMcc (31079) | more than 5 years ago | (#25858503)

The courts say that evidence was flawed. They through out that case as clear cut abuse. And what does the DA do? The say they'll charge here again.

So in order to avoid further embarrassment they "let her off" with a charge of disorderly conduct.

She still got screwed for something she was a victim of!

Re:Justice Still Not Done (1)

JimMcc (31079) | more than 5 years ago | (#25858523)

Ummmm, "through" should be "throw". Clearly time for another cup of coffee.

Re:Justice Still Not Done (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25858851)

Go fuck yourself, you fucking pervert. Shouldn't you be masturbating to images of teenaged boys, or something? Good fucking grief!

Re:Justice Still Not Done (5, Insightful)

Repossessed (1117929) | more than 5 years ago | (#25858835)

Not only did they go after her again, but they refused to go after the cop who lied in court about the forensic evidence, and the prosecutors who suppressed a state forensic report that concluded the popups were from spyware.

Re:Justice Still Not Done (2, Interesting)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 5 years ago | (#25859271)

Par for the course in the justice system. There's a cronyistic network set up to protect bad cops, bad judges and bad prosecutors. If there's one reform I'd like to see, it should be that if someone if falsely convicted based on bad evidence, the cops, prosecutors and judge involved should be forced to serve that person's *full* sentence instead, while that person collects their wages and pensions. Make this sort of thing so horrifyingly damage for bad cops and lawyers that they'll do what they're supposed to do, and presume innocence.

Re:Justice Still Not Done (1)

onecheapgeek (964280) | more than 5 years ago | (#25859585)

Hey, "bad evidence" damns the jury more than anyone else. If used to be that only the dumbest elements of society couldn't get out of jury duty. At least where I live, it's damn hard to get out of it. So why not put the jury in jail, too? Those are the ones who are ultimately responsible for the conviction.

Re:Justice Still Not Done (1)

jefu (53450) | more than 5 years ago | (#25859133)

Welcome to the american system of (in)justice. Sure, there are times when things work out, but for the most part it is about politicians trying to stay in office, so DAs slam people for things that they think will get them (or their bosses) votes.

wait what (5, Insightful)

Brian Gordon (987471) | more than 5 years ago | (#25858509)

Don't tag this suddenoutbreakofcommonsense! Some poor teacher was just convicted of a misdemeanor for something that she had no control over.

Re:wait what (-1, Troll)

mfh (56) | more than 5 years ago | (#25858551)

Don't tag this suddenoutbreakofcommonsense! Some poor teacher was just convicted of a misdemeanor for something that she had no control over.

Not really. She would have seen the popups before and she likely looked the other way, because many teachers are drowning in apathy. This sends a message to teachers that they are responsible for the kids in their classroom and as a father I definitely agree with the ruling here. A teacher should call techsupport immediately if they have spyware and also make sure the kids are not looking at porn, which was reported that she just let the kids stand there and look at it while she stared at it too. That's the reason there was a big media blitz over this case... you have a teacher who wasn't in control over the situation but also she exposed these kids to sexual images without clearing the room. She could have totally removed herself from any type of scrutiny if she cleared the classroom immediately and also refrained from surfing questionable websites after hours.

Re:wait what (4, Insightful)

cob666 (656740) | more than 5 years ago | (#25858619)

I don't recall there being any evidence that she was surfing questionable websites after hours. Also, she was a substitute teacher so how come nobody was looking at what the real teacher was doing with that computer after hours.

Re:wait what (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25858623)

because many teachers are drowning in apathy

Many teachers are drowning apathy because they're powerless to deal with shithead kids and their shithead "me-first" baby-boomer parents who are too busy with their careers and reliving their youth to get off their asses and take responsibility for their shithead kids' actions as well as teaching their kids to be responsible for their own actions. Don't blame the teacher for the fuckups of yourself and your shithead kids.

Misplaced priorities (4, Insightful)

mrraven (129238) | more than 5 years ago | (#25858761)

And if the kids had been exposed to violent images like a war that has killed a million people far from removing the kids from the room we'd have a fund raising drive to support the glorious war crime committing troops, right?

http://www.salon.com/news/feature/2008/03/13/winter_soldier/ [salon.com]

Where the fuck are our priorities?

Considering our society is committing war crimes and the economy is going down the drain I think the kiddies seeing a titty is the least of our worries. They are doing to learn where babies come from at some point, why are we so hung about that?

http://books.google.com/books?id=-A-7d-2VpwcC&pg=PA122&lpg=PA122&dq=Europe+nude+advertising&source=web&ots=Q9pqfc6bGy&sig=TMqCxpzJk3sOB5TXsvPNz9UH91M&hl=en&sa=X&oi=book_result&resnum=3&ct=result [google.com]

Americans need to grow up and get our priorities straight or we will continue to fall behind Europe and Asia and become a laughing stock country, no longer famous for tech but for puritan religious fanatics much like Iran.

Re:Misplaced priorities (4, Insightful)

TerranFury (726743) | more than 5 years ago | (#25859157)

Actually, we don't show graphic images from the war on the news. That's part of the problem. If we did, maybe people would be less inclined to support it.

Re:Misplaced priorities (1)

mrraven (129238) | more than 5 years ago | (#25859603)

Good point but even images of the glorious soldiers getting medals or whatever is promoting the occupation, shrug.

Re:wait what (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25859079)

Are you familiar with all the relevant facts? Can you be sure that there actually was a person to turn to? The richest nations are "drowning in apathy" in general. Is it beyond the realms of possibility that middle management and/or the IT department were not fit for purpose? Can you be sure that she was the only member of staff to have use of the computer in question? You speak as if you do.

It might indeed be true that she could have done more, but to issue her with a criminal record and revoke her teaching license is overkill. I hope you agree that the initial charges were laughable (apathy is not a crime, there was obviously no malice) For all you know, she might otherwise be a great teacher. Being exposed to pornography can not cause injury and therefore this is not a matter of safety at all. To end this woman's career just because some parents might have to answer some uncomfortable questions is a crime in itself.

Apparently the license for the web filtering software was not kept current. It is a teacher's job to teach. It's the job of the IT department to protect computers and it's management's responsibility to ensure they have the resources to do that. It would seem to me that a substitute teacher makes for an easy scapegoat. When further unfair blame continued to be laid at her door by the police, yet again nobody took responsibility for their own actions.

I'm posting anonymously because I reverted the abusive moderation ("I disagree and therefore he is a troll"). Notice how I can do you a favour (albeit tiny) even though I think you're wrong. It would appear that nobody was there to do that for this unfortunate lady.

x_merlin_x

Travesty (5, Insightful)

Rinisari (521266) | more than 5 years ago | (#25858511)

This is still a travesty of justice. Disorderly conduct and neutering her of her source of income is terrible for something of which she had no control.

Re:Travesty (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25858533)

All be because the DA probably didn't want to have a mark in the LOSS column. Probably had nothing to do with justice at all.

Re:Travesty (0, Troll)

mfh (56) | more than 5 years ago | (#25858597)

This is still a travesty of justice. Disorderly conduct and neutering her of her source of income is terrible for something of which she had no control.

You don't have kids do you? She is a teacher in charge of a classroom. When confronted with the problem of sexual images on the computer, she should have shut off the monitor and called the vice principal IMMEDIATELY, but what this woman did was stand there dumbfounded and let kids stare at some pretty graphic porn. They told their parents and that is what caused the media storm. The teacher kept it quiet and tried to solve the problem herself, and that is why she is being punished. Proper rules of conduct govern teachers and this one didn't follow them so she is being held accountable. I'm glad she didn't get 40yrs but I'm also glad they are slapping her wrist so that other teachers will see this case and be ethically stalwart and follow the correct measures to protect kids in their care.

Re:Travesty (4, Informative)

digitrev (989335) | more than 5 years ago | (#25858661)

Well excuse her for being a little bit dumbstruck at the sudden appearance of porn on the computer screen that she isn't in charge of. Would you and I have turned it off immediately? Of course. If it was a Windows box, we both would have hit Windows+D in a split second, hiding the damn thing and then close it through the Task Manager. However, Ms. Amero is a substitute teacher, and probably not very tech savvy. Give her a break.

Re:Travesty (3, Insightful)

legirons (809082) | more than 5 years ago | (#25859031)

The real question is: which of the programs or websites was responsible for showing porn to children?

Bonus question for the prosecutor to answer: who wrote that program or website?

Re:Travesty (2, Informative)

cj51 (921458) | more than 5 years ago | (#25859471)

iirc Amero was given instructions on using the computer from another teacher who also told her not to turn the computer off "under any circumstances". This is what I recall reading 18 month ago. I believe somebody tried to play a joke on her, but I have not heard that it entered into the investigation.

Re:Travesty (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25858725)

First a little technical education, something that shouldn't be needed on /. The teacher likely typo'd a URL, which lead to a porn site. Once she realized what it was, she probably tried to "back" or close the browser immediately.

Now for the educational part: Some pron sites have been known to include javascript to open a new window (or two) if you close the current one. THe more you close, the more they open. It's called "Mousetrapping". Just from the article summary, this is quite likely what happened to her and hardly her fault.

It was an accident, and she did nothing wrong. This is still a travesty, but at least it isn't as horrific as it could be.

Re:Travesty (1)

argiedot (1035754) | more than 5 years ago | (#25859421)

The typo theory is very possible. Everyone knows the story about whitehouse.com

And honestly, if it were me, I'd probably be surprised for a few seconds before I actually reacted. It's just not something you expect on a school computer.

Re:Travesty (5, Funny)

0xdeadbeef (28836) | more than 5 years ago | (#25858753)

Two digit ID, think of the children whargarbl...

Holy crap, the trolls have sleeper cells!

Re:Travesty (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25859231)

what you need to bear in mind is that he bought that two-digit id at auction. he's not the original mfh.

Re:Travesty (3, Insightful)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#25858871)

Suspending her from working in that school system for a couple of months would be a slap on the wrist.

Bringing in the DA was reactionary.

Re:Travesty (5, Insightful)

TerranFury (726743) | more than 5 years ago | (#25858883)

You used the phrase, "protect kids in their care." The court used the phrase "risk of injury to a minor." Will people please stop this disingenuous rhetoric? What injury was risked? "Mental trauma" associated with seeing boobies? From what did these children need protecting?

The 'poor little children' involved were 7th graders. That makes them about 13 years old, which puts some of them at the beginning and some of them at the middle of puberty. Now look at some data [durex.com] which indicates that the median age of first intercourse in the U.S. is just under 17, and realize that if that's the median, then half of people first had sex earlier than this, and there is likely a non-negligible portion of the histogram that is nonzero at the 7th grade level.

For many of the children in that classroom, do you really believe that this was their first exposure to porn?

Now let's look at the balance of harms. On the one hand, we have a woman who lost her job and, in all likelihood, her ability to teach anywhere else ever again. And on the other -- some pubescent students saw things a good portion of them have likely already seen anyway.

So was this really fair?

Re:Travesty (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#25859217)

Even worse, a good portion of the students likely saw things that they have attached to their own bodies.

Re:Travesty (1)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 5 years ago | (#25859701)

Even worse, a good portion of the students likely saw things that they have attached to their own bodies.

It's not what you got, but how you use it that counts!

Re:Travesty (4, Insightful)

MindlessAutomata (1282944) | more than 5 years ago | (#25859769)

And a better point is, which damage, exactly, is caused? Believe it or not, sex is not intrinsically "damaging" in the slightest. Attitudes toward sex, the same attitudes that caused this poor woman to be harassed, are what make any sight of sexual activity "damaging" by programming children to view sex negatively or as "forbidden" or something to hide and be ashamed of.

The mentality of the "justice" department and the prosecutor here have done far more damage to the teacher AND the "children" (12-13 year olds are not really that innocent, as you noted) involved.

Re:Travesty (1)

mikael_j (106439) | more than 5 years ago | (#25858889)

IIRC she had been told by someone that she was not allowed to turn the computer off, this would explain why she didn't know what to do. In her mind there were probably three options: 1) leave computer on and face the possibility of getting fired 2) turn computer off and get fired for sure 3) ???.

/Mikael

Re:Travesty (1)

RespekMyAthorati (798091) | more than 5 years ago | (#25859621)

You don't have kids do you?

Yes I do.
And I would immediately forgive any teacher who was overwhelmed by malware.
The idea that criminal charges could result from this simple mistake is disgusting.
America is fucked.

Re:Travesty (2)

rta (559125) | more than 5 years ago | (#25859709)

i'm no fan of most teachers' grievances & teachers unions but this woman was thrown to the dogs for no good reason.

a) I'm not sure what circles you run in, but being convicted of anything more than a speeding ticket is pretty serious in today's society unless you are a superstar of some sort (sports, politics, movies, etc). This is especially true if you're dealing with children or money.

b) losing one's teaching credentials is a big deal when one is a teacher. Hopefully she'll find some private school that isn't encumbered by the whole credential process to hire her, but i wouldn't hold my breath. In spite of your claims this single incident says virtually nothing about her character, skill or ability to teach kids.

The proper level of "discipline" and "punishment" in this case should have been being talked to by the principal.

New Meaning (-1, Troll)

mfh (56) | more than 5 years ago | (#25858525)

Many people in positions of authority over children will want to double check and make sure their computers are clean from spyware/malware, or run the risk of similar legal ramifications. Software is available to you and even if you are a teacher with a lot of apathy (low wages, long hours, little patience, scary situations like guns in the school... etc)... and maybe it's a good idea to refrain from surfing porn on school computers!!

Re:New Meaning (2, Interesting)

Jerry (6400) | more than 5 years ago | (#25858581)

And the next time a porn picture pops up on your computer while you are trying to navigate to some kids site, while your childing are waiting and watching, shall we indict you for aiding and abetting the abuse of a minor?

Re:New Meaning (-1, Troll)

mfh (56) | more than 5 years ago | (#25858607)

And the next time a porn picture pops up on your computer while you are trying to navigate to some kids site, while your childing are waiting and watching, shall we indict you for aiding and abetting the abuse of a minor?

If the facts warrant the case, why not? I believe the facts did warrant this case, but hey -- IANAL.

Re:New Meaning (1)

zappepcs (820751) | more than 5 years ago | (#25858695)

When this story first hit the news there were more than a small number of people wanting to know why the school system computers even had access to porn sites. They *should* have been filtered by the school's proxy. Clearly the IT configuration and protections were lacking or nonexistent. A substitute teacher can no more be held liable for the failure of IT systems than they can be held accountable for the failure of lighting systems in the school. This is clearly a travesty and as others have pointed out, the misdemeanor charge was to keep her from suing. Now, all we need to do is wait for anonymous to find this prosecutor doing the wrong thing and get it into the news for karma to reach equilibrium again.

Re:New Meaning (2, Insightful)

digitrev (989335) | more than 5 years ago | (#25858743)

Doing a quick bit of research shows that they had a copy of Symantec WebNOT filter. However, their copy didn't have a license for updates, so they missed out on all the new porn that appears daily.

Re:New Meaning (1)

RespekMyAthorati (798091) | more than 5 years ago | (#25859643)

If the facts warrant the case, why not? I believe the facts did warrant this case, but hey -- IANAL.

No, but you AAAH.*



*(Are An Ass Hat) .

Re:New Meaning (5, Insightful)

shrubya (570356) | more than 5 years ago | (#25858681)

Obviously I'm new here compared to a 2-digit ID, but come on and RTFA.

She was a SUBSTITUTE teacher. There is no possible way that a substitute could download, install, and run an anti-malware app in the handful of minutes notice she had before classes began. Even if she were allowed to install apps onto school PCs, which is unlikely.

Re:New Meaning (1)

Skye16 (685048) | more than 5 years ago | (#25859001)

Don't bother dude. This guy's knee is jerking so much he may as well be dancing the Charleston. No rational response is going to sidetrack him from his retardedness.

Re:New Meaning (4, Informative)

electrogeist (1345919) | more than 5 years ago | (#25858869)

I didn't follow this closely but per a previous /. article http://slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=07/01/13/0753209

1) an expert found the computer was infected on a hairstyling site, not porn surfing

2) "Amero testified that she had told four other teachers and the assistant principal about the popups, but received no assistance. "

3) "The school's internet filtration software was not working because it's license had expired."

Whether she had the technical ability to install a cleansing tool I don't know, but many businesses and institutions these days have policies about installing anything without approval... It wouldn't suprise me if the school rules barred her from installing something to fix herself.

I also imagine she received better treatment than if she were a male

Re:New Meaning (5, Insightful)

TerranFury (726743) | more than 5 years ago | (#25858935)

I also imagine she received better treatment than if she were a male

Indeed. Had she been male, she'd be going door to door nowadays introducing herself as the friendly neighborhood sex offender.

Re:New Meaning (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25858927)

Something about the user ID and the post number is just so cool about that post.

Baka. (5, Insightful)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 5 years ago | (#25858543)

The sad part is that it took a bunch of forensic experts and a lot of taxpayer dollars several months to convince the court that pornography can appear in popups when browsing the internet that the user didn't explicitly ask for. This is just another reason why computer crimes need special courts to process cases -- the level of computer literacy amongst court officials is still very low, and at the risk of being yelled at for saying so... It's because many of these judges are at or past retirement age and haven't the inclination to learn.

Re:Baka. (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25858705)

This is just another reason why computer crimes need special courts to process cases...

Nonsense. The problem is in the officers of the court. You'll either end up filling the computer crimes court with idiots, or if you figure out a way to get non-idiots in positions of power, you might as well do that for the regular courts.

The court officials are probably not geneticists either, yet presumably they deal with DNA evidence at least occassionally.

Re:Baka. (1)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 5 years ago | (#25858845)

In high tech crime, a certain level of literacy is required that goes beyond processing a case about say, car jacking, kidnapping, drug dealing, assault, etc. The judges we have today are very good at understanding the standards of evidence and process for that class of crimes, but high tech crime is not so well-defined and so a judge needs a different skill set to inform his/her decisions. This does not make the officers of the court defective in any way; A judge that precides in civil court has a different set of skills than one from criminal court, and both are different than family court.

Re:Baka. (1)

Kibblet (754565) | more than 5 years ago | (#25859063)

And yet we don't have doctors presiding over any cases involving medicine. Other complex cases (more complex than computer things like this -- this is even something *I* understand) manage just fine without special courts. There shouldn't be a need for a computer court if courts handle all sorts of complexities out there. There are a lot of 'hard' things out in the world, besides computers. Really.

Re:Baka. (1)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 5 years ago | (#25859087)

The sheer number of these kind of cases for high-tech is justification enough. If you can show me a six month backlog of federal cases on intricate cases of crime that need a high level of medical knowledge to sort out, you might have a case.

Re:Baka. (3, Interesting)

Alyred (667815) | more than 5 years ago | (#25859273)

I work for a court as tech support. Many, many of our judges are as described: not inclined to learn the finer details of computers, and don't have the fundamental understanding of how computers work. But they are beginning to, as spam and spyware impacts them on a personal level, an understanding is slowly coming.

I believe that the problem, as was posted earlier, is that many of the judges are far past retirement age and not willing to start learning a whole new branch of knowledge. DNA evidence has an established record of working and has precedent in court, and while new (relatively speaking) doesn't change as quickly as computer technology does. Remember, spam was a nuisance 10 years ago; now it's what, 80 some percent of our world internet traffic? Spyware didn't exist 15 years ago; now you have to watch where you click because some companies will hold your machine ransom because you thought you clicked on a free virus scan.

Additionally, DNA and forensic evidence (for instance) deals with proving someone guilty of a specific crime, it's used as evidence to support crimes such as murder, kidnapping, or rape -- a much more personal, physical set of crimes with a limited scope that the technology applies to: defendant was or wasn't at the scene of the crime. Compared to computer and technology "crimes", of which computer technology evidence introduced into court could be literally anything from network protocol analysis to hard drive sector recovery, with different applications and results to each of those, it becomes evident that there's a much wider spectrum of facts and case law that needs to be established, and to be honest, a whole new branch of education that would need to be taken on for a judge to truly understand enough of the aspects to make informed decisions.

That is why they call experts to the stand, question them on the facts, and then move on.

Our younger judges that are coming on board, however, have a much better grasp on the technology side -- at least the usage of technology -- and I think will be able to tackle these kinds of cases in the coming years with more favorable results.

However, I still have one question. Why didn't the defense team introduce more forensic evidence showing how vile and pervasive spyware and spam can be? Or was it just that the jury didn't like that she didn't keep kids away from the screen while the spyware was popping up porn?

Re:Baka. (2, Interesting)

Ian Alexander (997430) | more than 5 years ago | (#25859209)

Wouldn't it be better just to require them to have a clue about computers instead of creating an extra-special court for one class of crime?

And, having spent some quality time in a district courthouse (hey, it was a series of field outings in a class on the Justice system!) I can tell you that the geriatric judge stereotype is just that- a stereotype. I never saw one under 30 but I didn't see any older than their early 50's.

Re:Baka. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25859229)

The sad part is that it took a bunch of forensic experts and a lot of taxpayer dollars several months to convince the court that pornography can appear in popups when browsing the internet that the user didn't explicitly ask for. This is just another reason why computer crimes need special courts to process cases -- the level of computer literacy amongst court officials is still very low

This is precisely the reason I will be starting law school next autumn. There needs to be more intelligence exhibited by the judiciary when confronted with "computer crime."

The teacher should not have been disciplined nor charged with any offense. Her teaching record should have been cleaned of the entire incident and the police officer(s) who presented false testimony should be serving 40 years in prison with the DA fired with a black mark on his/her permanent record.

Common sense? (1)

Xenographic (557057) | more than 5 years ago | (#25858569)

"Oh honey, it's over. I feel wonderful," Amero said a few minutes after pleading guilty to disorderly conduct and agreeing to surrender her teaching license. She had originally been charged with 10 counts of risk of injury to a minor and later convicted on four of them.

Exactly what were the circumstances that inundated her with porno popups? Because it seems like she got a rather harsh sentence, even if she got off easy compared to the charges filed against her.

Also, this would be a good time to install Adblock Plus [adblockplus.org] or a similar extension if you haven't already. Those advertisements have also been used as an infection vector to install viruses and such.

Re:Common sense? (2, Informative)

Sique (173459) | more than 5 years ago | (#25858747)

That was one of the problems: The virus scanner was completely outdated at the school.

Re:Common sense? (2, Interesting)

st0rmshad0w (412661) | more than 5 years ago | (#25859473)

Adblock Plus? Are you daft? There should have been network based measures in place to defend against this type of crap.

My guess is they have effectively no IT department, especially given that they are using Windows 98 in classrooms when it is completely unsecurable, and seem to have zero protective measures in place or policies or teacher training.

More than a few people need a serious punch in the crotch over this and the poor woman needs to be cleared and reinstated and issued a full public apology.

Sanctimony (1)

trudyscousin (258684) | more than 5 years ago | (#25858595)

New London County State's Attorney Michael Regan: "I have no regrets. Things took a course that was unplanned," Regan said. "For some reason, this case caught the media's attention."

Translation: "I didn't have a case after all."

Re:Sanctimony (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25858685)

New London County State's Attorney Michael Regan: "I have no regrets. Things took a course that was unplanned," Regan said. "For some reason, this case caught the media's attention."

Translation: "I didn't have a case after all."

Between the lines: He's planning a political career and what a better start than 'protecting the children' from teachers who force your children to look at pornographic material.

Elect me, Michael Regan, protector of the children from evil pornographic teachers!

He got his name in the paper.

Disgraceful DA (5, Interesting)

adsl (595429) | more than 5 years ago | (#25858631)

Looks as thought the Prosecution backed down 95%, which shows they really had no case. But the Prosecution still wanted a conviction on ANY charge and likely threatened to go back with all the Felony charges if this teacher did not agree. Faced with this option it's no wonder she took the smaller fall. But someone higher up the Justice chain needs to review this case as it looks as though the Prosecution used their office and FEAR as they means to get this last conviction. i.e. this looks like completely flawed use of the Justice system. The really bad people here were the school administrators, IMHO, who did not keep up-to-date which would have prevented the porn pop=ups. Why is the Prosecutors office ignoring the bigger crime and going after one teacher? That's insane and needs review IMHO. Meantime this teacher now has a criminal mrecord and a "prior" which will follow her for the rest of her life. Any job interview will mean she will have to detail the offense and her "arrest record".

Re:Disgraceful DA (2, Informative)

cob666 (656740) | more than 5 years ago | (#25858707)

Any job interview will mean she will have to detail the offense and her "arrest record".

Not exactly true, it depends on the wording of the application. If she is only asked for felony convictions then she doesn't have to list it. According to the Hartford Courant [courant.com] she plead to a misdemeanor disorderly conduct.

Re:Disgraceful DA (1)

bakedpatato (1254274) | more than 5 years ago | (#25858893)

The prosecution needs to save face. Imagine if they suddenly said "whoopsies, we were looking for the wrong teacher". I would imagine some recall efforts would happen after that...

Re:Disgraceful DA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25858947)

Yeah, it's very unfair. Poor bastard got really fucked up. Hooah for the justice system...

Re:Disgraceful DA (4, Insightful)

jdc (17517) | more than 5 years ago | (#25858999)

Maybe prosecutors need alternate "metrics for success"?

If my job performance was based on my percentage of successful convections and I knew I was assigned a looser case, it's up to me to think of alternate ways to succeed at my job

A system that encourages this behavior is totally broken

Convections? (2, Funny)

VirginMary (123020) | more than 5 years ago | (#25859431)

> ... percentage of successful convections and I knew I was assigned...

From Dictionary.com [dictionary.com] :

convection [kuhn-vek-shuhn]:
-noun
1. Physics. the transfer of heat by the circulation or movement of the heated parts of a liquid or gas.
2. Meteorology. the vertical transport of atmospheric properties, esp. upward (distinguished from advection ).
3. the act of conveying or transmitting.

Re:Convections? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25859569)

3. the act of conveying or transmitting.

-> conveying Perps into the Big House..

Re:Disgraceful DA (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25859305)

The D.A. should be beat and sodomized with a clue bat for using fear and ignorance in an attempt to further his/her career while ruining a teachers life all at the tax payers expense.

If this were a man, (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25858715)

there wouldn't have been any chance for a plea bargain. The poor bastard would have been lynched.

Re:If this were a man, (5, Interesting)

TerranFury (726743) | more than 5 years ago | (#25859145)

The body of psychological evidence indicates that children are suggestible, that memory is malleable, and that kids will report sexual abuse even when it did not occur. I'm remembering a famous experiment described in intro psychology courses: The setup was this: A toddler was taken into a mock doctor's office for a "checkup," in which the experimenter did nothing more than tie a small red string around the child's finger; this was videotaped by a hidden camera. Then, the child was interviewed in the manner common in sex-abuse legal cases at the time, in which she was presented with a doll and asked to indicate whether the doctor had touched her, and where. After repeated, gentle, innocuous-seeming questioning, the child reported obscene things that I could have not come up with myself; among other things, she reported that the doctor had rammed a stick into her vagina, which she pantomimed violently (the interview was also videotaped). What seems to have happened is that she responded subliminally to subtle, unintentional cues from the interviewer, and reported whatever the interviewer was afraid to (or wanted to?) hear. It's essentially the same phenomenon as what occurred with Clever Hans [wikipedia.org] , the horse that could "do arithmetic." The horse was posed questions in the form of marks on the ground, and would tap out the answer -- one tap to say "one," two taps to say "two," etc -- in response. It astounded all observers, but what was actually happening is that the horse was picking up on the crowd's reaction to his tapping: Tension would build as he approached the right number, and then immediately release; this is when he would stop. In any event, the point is that apparently cut-and-dry testimonies are anything but, and people -- especially, but not just, children -- are hugely suggestible, and can honestly remember things that never happened as a subliminal response to unintentional bias in the interviewer.

The conclusion you're forced to draw is that there are hundreds of innocent men now in jail for sex crimes, especially crimes against children, that they didn't commit. The sad irony is that sexual abuse really is now happening -- in jail, and these men are the victims.

Re:If this were a man, (4, Insightful)

Frosty Piss (770223) | more than 5 years ago | (#25859549)

The kind of thing you describe is why any intellegent person should think twice about going into teaching. It's just too risky.

Only at Pepperbee's would that be mod'd Troll. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25859197)

At Pepperbee's, a man is treated the same as everyone else [youtube.com] when it cums down to the prostituting attorney dropping the bricks of his man-in-drag judge presiding.

Anonymous Coward (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25858913)

Yet more proof that his country is fucking retarded.

Re:Anonymous Coward (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25858989)

Yet more proof that his country is fucking retarded.

*this

I also need more coffee...

erroneous and false conviction .. (4, Interesting)

rs232 (849320) | more than 5 years ago | (#25858969)

"Amero was working on a very old Gateway PC running Windows 98 [alternet.org] , an extremely vulnerable setup .. Detective Mark Lounsbury .. admitted under cross-examination that the prosecution never even checked the computer for malware"

don't talk to cops [youtube.com]

Offtopic re: youtube link (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25859189)

damn i wish i could talk as fast as that guy on the link without screwing up.

Injury to minor? (2)

nightfire-unique (253895) | more than 5 years ago | (#25859027)

Does anyone else here find the term "injury to a minor" in this context extremely offensive? Is it not insulting to minors who are actually put at risk of injury?

Like, for example, by people threatening to expell a minor for having a plastic butter knife, or tylenol at school?

Only in America... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25859089)

This is what happens in a country where parents expect the government to raise their children for them.

Teach about the internet (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25859093)

Malware gave those children a glimpse of the nastier side of the internet. We should try and protect people against the worst excesses - we can try to screen for adult content, but the trolls and the spammers and their ilk will still outclass the computer support staff of a junior school.

To quote Ben-Hur - "There are no rules in the arena". Out on the web, there are all kinds of people, and some of them are not what they seem. There are lots of good things on the internet, and there are other things which imitate something good, and lure you onto clicking on something you shouldn't. There are parallels here with predators in nature that disguise themselves as things they are not. Go from there to explain how some simple scams work. The good tricks are simple - leaving something that looks like the login screen and asks for your login password, and then says 'gotcha!' will get the point across.

The lesson could probably be extended to other personal interactions. Some trolls feel a great freedom to abuse other people whom they shall probably never meet. Cyberspace bullies are usually pretty impotent if you discard what they say. Introduce children to the modern version of 'Racter' and 'Eliza' - and show them that someone who might appear to be a friend could be something different, and might not be a person at all. Explain how a 'captcha' works and how it might be fooled.

You might extend this class to cover Real People too. Heck, some people aren't all that nice even off the internet.

You would probably like your child to know how to swim. We know that deep water is dangerous, but we do not keep children away from it: we introduce them to it under controlled and hopefully safe conditions, and allow them to take more risks as their confidence improves. If we could raise children in a sanitized world - and frankly I don't think we can without the most repressive of digital filters, and probably not even then - then they are going to get a shock when they first plug in their own computer.

Imprison the teacher for 40 years, though? That is beyond bizarre...

Disorderly Conduct (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25859149)

Disorderly Conduct is a violation. Not a misdemeanor or felony. Not much different than a parking ticket. It will not follow her for the rest of her life.

Pled guilty? Sounds like a horrible deal (1)

bigbigbison (104532) | more than 5 years ago | (#25859205)

It is nice that she isn't going to jail but still pleading guilty is a horrible outcome. While she might have been found guilty, having her plead guilty is just crap. You should never have to plead guilty to anything if you didn't do anything wrong.

Why is America so easily traumatized? (2, Insightful)

A12m0v (1315511) | more than 5 years ago | (#25859459)

a few porno pop-ups big deal, close them and move on with your life!
it's just like with Janet Jackson milk shake, the whole nation overreacted!

I'm embarrassed by stuff like this! why can't we be like one of them cool European countries, where people aren't too crazy about Jesus and there isn't a war on sex?

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