Monday, June 2, 2014
United States v. Baker case brief summary
o Defendant is charged with transmitting threats to injure or kidnap another through email messages transmitted via the internet.
§ Rules of Law:
o Motion to quash is GRANTED.
o 18 U.S.C. § 875(c) reads:
“Whoever transmits in interstate or foreign commerce any communication containing any threat to kidnap any person or any threat to injure the person of another” is liable to suit.
o To pass constitutional muster (read: to not offend the First Amendment), the plaintiff must initially prove a “true threat”
§ “True Threat”—an unequivocal, unconditional, immediate and specific as to the person threatened, as to convey a gravity of purpose and imminent prospect of execution.
o While it need not specifically identify a single person, the threat must be sufficiently specific as to its potential target(s) to render the statement more than a hypothetical.
§ Alternatively, statements expressing musings, considerations of what it would be like to kidnap or injure someone, or desires to kidnap or injure someone, however unsavory, are not constitutionally actionable under § 875(c) absent some expression of an intent to commit the injury or kidnapping.
o All of the language for which the defendant is charged was contained in private email messages not available in any publicly accessible part of the internet.
§ Thus, the focus of the inquiry must be who a reasonable person would expect the receiver to interpret the emails.
§ Bill of Particulars:
o Target— Female college students who lived in defendant’s dorm.
· N.B.: Identified with sufficient specificity.
o Immediate Intentions—
· N.B.: there ned to be intent to carry out actions, unequivocal intent
· Here, that standard is not satisfied:
- The language in the email lacks any expression of an intention to act, and concludes with a request for a reaction: “What do you think?”
- Discussion of a commission of a crime is not tantamount to declaring an intention to commit that crime.
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