Page 1 of 4 123 ... LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 38

Thread: Suicide texting case sets bad precedent, experts say

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Wednesday, June 17th, 2015
    Last Online
    Today @ 2:40 PM
    Posts
    11,741
    Post Thanks / Like

    Suicide texting case sets bad precedent, experts say

    Wonder if this case might possibly make it to the Supreme Court. First Amendment; fact that she didn't take his life.

    http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/crime/...cid=spartandhp
    A judge’s sentencing of a 20-year-old Massachusetts woman who urged her boyfriend via text to carry out his suicide may have showed leniency but should not have happened at all, legal experts told USA TODAY.
    Juvenile Court Judge Lawrence Moniz sentenced Michelle Carter to 2 ½ years in prison on a charge of involuntary manslaughter Thursday, but Carter*will only serve 15 months of that. She*was convicted in June in the 2014 suicide*of her boyfriend, Conrad Roy III, who died of carbon monoxide poisoning in his truck with Carter’s encouragement via text messaging.

    When Carter was convicted in June, legal experts expressed concern that the case could set a new legal precedent in which words, and not just actions, are deemed to cause death. It was the conviction and not the sentencing that caused that concern for Daniel Medwed, professor of law and criminal justice at the Northeastern University School of Law.

    “This idea that words can kill is a very controversial one because the criminal law typically punishes physical action.*… The drunk driver who plows into somebody or a person who shoots a gun, where you’re consciously disregarding a huge risk,” Medwed said.*
    Medwed said he never believed it should have been a manslaughter*case. “I think Massachusetts needs a specific statute that criminalizes encouraging or coercing suicide,” he added.*
    The American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts agreed that the case against Carter was not one of manslaughter and expressed anger that the sentencing further sets a dangerous example.

    “Mr. Roy’s death is an unspeakable tragedy, and our deepest sympathies are with his family and friends; but while Mr. Roy’s death is truly devastating, it is not a reason to stretch the boundaries of our criminal laws or abandon the protections of our constitution,” Matthew Segal, legal director of the ACLU of Massachusetts, said in a statement.
    “There is no law in Massachusetts making it a crime to persuade someone to commit suicide,” Segal said. “And there should not be any sentence handed down against Ms. Carter for involuntary manslaughter because her conviction for that crime is improper. It exceeds the limits of our criminal laws and violates free speech protections guaranteed by the Massachusetts and U.S. Constitutions.”

    Regarding the sentencing, Medwed said his impression was that the judge was trying to make sure that Carter, then 17, served time near her home by assigning her to a county and not state facility.

    One interpretation of that is perhaps the judge was thinking that it would be good to keep her close to her support network,” the law professor said.
    For juveniles, the purpose of the penal system is to rehabilitate not punish, he said. He pointed out that the judge could have imposed a sentence of up to 20 years if he wanted.
    “I think the judge relied a lot on the fact that she was a juvenile when she committed this crime,” Medwed said. ]
    Video at link.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Tuesday, October 1st, 2013
    Last Online
    Today @ 2:23 PM
    Posts
    22,859
    Post Thanks / Like
    I've followed this case for quite a while. For what it's worth, I think the conviction was correct and the sentence seems okay.

    Those of us who are older and have a take-it-or-leave-it attitude about texting or peer platforms do not "get" the role this stuff plays in the lives of the under-30 crowd.

    Somebody "says" something here on NEIP that makes you look stupid or whatever. Fallout is zero. You think about it maybe once in the next 24 hours. You re-engage with that person the next day on the same or a different topic. Meh. You eat BBQ and zone out binge watching 'Breaking Bad' or rereading the entire Dark Tower series.

    For kids, this is their entire life. Full stop.

    It shouldn't be but it is and that's what's happening. In this case, this girl didn't just get tired of her vague BF talking about suicide and then block him (like a sane adult would do), she played a game with his head. She constantly pushed him to do it and she didn't involve normal adults to get him help (a lot is out there).

    I'm all for free speech and I understand the arguments here but I tutor this age group up to about age 25 and they are not like us.

    We can talk about that until the cows come home but they are more fragile, less defensive and self-protective, and more open to peers.

    It is what it is.

  3. Likes Lanie, Newman liked this post
  4. #3
    Join Date
    Friday, November 1st, 2013
    Last Online
    Today @ 2:15 PM
    Posts
    12,230
    Post Thanks / Like
    Quote Originally Posted by Gingersnap View Post

    I'm all for free speech and I understand the arguments here but I tutor this age group up to about age 25 and they are not like us.

    We can talk about that until the cows come home but they are more fragile, less defensive and self-protective, and more open to peers.

    It is what it is.
    Very provocative thought. So how are they like us?

    People becoming adults (as we were, too, at the dawn of time) depend on others to define what a successful adult is. And in that circle of advisors, parents come earliest and strongest, but peers come on strong, because it's among those peers that one will live and be judged, and—I think the most important part by far—find a mate. Or not.

    I believe most adolescent and early adult behavior, barring mental defect, is extremely responsive to what is perceived as attractive to potential partners. For the most part, if girls didn't find something attractive about "more fragile, less defensive and self-protective" boys, it wouldn't be. That is to say, if girls wanted something different, boys would be something different. And vice versa.

    Contrary to your experience, maybe, what I've seen is that the ingredient admired most by those growing up ranks of anxious date-seekers is self-confidence, especially iconoclastic self-confidence. (Everyone knows what the ordinary rules are, and everyone is worn out trying that route; it takes something extra to flout the rules somewhat and be self-confident about it.) Oldsters easily see the cockiness, egoism or just plain selfishness often involved, but anxious kids are in thrall to it. The "smooth" self-confident ones are the leaders. The irresistible "bad boys," for example.

    No simple description covers everyone, of course. Jerks and heroes live in every generation. But I'm interested in your feedback based on your experience. I've got one more good glass of wine tonight. Otherwise I'll think about it maybe once in the next 24 hours and re-engage tomorrow.

    Last edited by Newman; Friday, August 4th, 2017 at 9:26 PM.

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Saturday, October 5th, 2013
    Last Online
    @
    Location
    In the mainstream of American life.
    Posts
    15,844
    Post Thanks / Like
    Quote Originally Posted by Gingersnap View Post
    I've followed this case for quite a while. For what it's worth, I think the conviction was correct and the sentence seems okay.

    Those of us who are older and have a take-it-or-leave-it attitude about texting or peer platforms do not "get" the role this stuff plays in the lives of the under-30 crowd.

    Somebody "says" something here on NEIP that makes you look stupid or whatever. Fallout is zero. You think about it maybe once in the next 24 hours. You re-engage with that person the next day on the same or a different topic. Meh. You eat BBQ and zone out binge watching 'Breaking Bad' or rereading the entire Dark Tower series.

    For kids, this is their entire life. Full stop.

    It shouldn't be but it is and that's what's happening. In this case, this girl didn't just get tired of her vague BF talking about suicide and then block him (like a sane adult would do), she played a game with his head. She constantly pushed him to do it and she didn't involve normal adults to get him help (a lot is out there).

    I'm all for free speech and I understand the arguments here but I tutor this age group up to about age 25 and they are not like us.

    We can talk about that until the cows come home but they are more fragile, less defensive and self-protective, and more open to peers.

    It is what it is.
    The logical flaw in this is that the exceptions will soon consume the rule. If we make the law bend to apply in circumstances where the alleged victim has special vulnerabilities, we'll find that everyone has special vulnerabilities.

    Joe gets pissed at Sue, his lab partner in Chem 100. He writes on the boys' bathroom wall, "Sue sucks dick." Someone tells Sue. Turns out Sue is - take your pick: a survivor of child sexual abuse including forced fellatio; a member of a weird religious sect that demands self-immolation as the penance for dishonoring the family; already on the edge of paranoid schizophrenia. For her own peculiar reasons, she responds to this act - one that rude, nasty boys have engaged in since there were words and bathroom walls - by killing herself. Is Joe a murderer? Hell no!


    I don't know what pool your students are drawn from, but I spent 2 recent years substitute teaching in public middle and high schools, and I didn't see these fragile flowers you describe. But even if I did, the law deals with what a reasonable person would do, and a reasonable person would turn. off. the. friggin'. phone.

    There may be a lawsuit here for wrongful death. There's no grounds for the homicide conviction. Involuntary manslaughter, the crime of which she was convicted, is defined by Massachusetts law thus:

    1) An unlawful killing that was unintentionally caused as the result of the defendants' wanton or reckless conduct;

    or

    2) An unlawful killing that resulted during the commission of a dangerous battery by a defendant.
    Basic to both is "killing." If she didn't kill him, it doesn't matter how wanton, reckless, or even purely evil her conduct was. She wasn't there and she didn't kill him. He killed himself.

    And even if you hold her responsible for his act of killing, the killing that did occur wasn't "unlawful," because suicide is no longer illegal in Massachusetts. Required elements of the crime are just not there.

    Finally, be careful what you endorse. There's no statute of limitations on homicide. If this case stands, I plan to ask the CA attorney general to prosecute Bob and Mary Griffith, their former pastor and the other members of their church for the suicide of Bobby Griffith.. Among others.
    No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws. This offer VALID in 35 34 33 32 31 26 20 17 15 14 13 ALL 50 states.

    The new 13 original states to stand up for freedom: CA, CT, IA, MA, DE, MN, NH, NY, RI, VT, ME, MD, NJ (plus DC).

  6. Likes 80zephyr liked this post
  7. #5
    Join Date
    Friday, November 1st, 2013
    Last Online
    Today @ 2:15 PM
    Posts
    12,230
    Post Thanks / Like
    Quote Originally Posted by Celeste Chalfonte View Post
    The logical flaw in this is that the exceptions will soon consume the rule. If we make the law bend to apply in circumstances where the alleged victim has special vulnerabilities, we'll find that everyone has special vulnerabilities.

    Joe gets pissed at Sue, his lab partner in Chem 100. He writes on the boys' bathroom wall, "Sue sucks dick." Someone tells Sue. Turns out Sue is - take your pick: a survivor of child sexual abuse including forced fellatio; a member of a weird religious sect that demands self-immolation as the penance for dishonoring the family; already on the edge of paranoid schizophrenia. For her own peculiar reasons, she responds to this act - one that rude, nasty boys have engaged in since there were words and bathroom walls - by killing herself. Is Joe a murderer? Hell no!
    I guess not. But your comparison leaves out the most important, "active ingredient": the villain here was interacting, encouraging the victim, not merely scrawling an insult on a wall somewhere.

    It's a difference that makes all the difference.
    I don't know what pool your students are drawn from, but I spent 2 recent years substitute teaching in public middle and high schools, and I didn't see these fragile flowers you describe. But even if I did, the law deals with what a reasonable person would do, and a reasonable person would turn. off. the. friggin'. phone.

    There may be a lawsuit here for wrongful death. There's no grounds for the homicide conviction. Involuntary manslaughter, the crime of which she was convicted, is defined by Massachusetts law thus:



    Basic to both is "killing." If she didn't kill him, it doesn't matter how wanton, reckless, or even purely evil her conduct was. She wasn't there and she didn't kill him. He killed himself.

    And even if you hold her responsible for his act of killing, the killing that did occur wasn't "unlawful," because suicide is no longer illegal in Massachusetts. Required elements of the crime are just not there.

    Finally, be careful what you endorse. There's no statute of limitations on homicide. If this case stands, I plan to ask the CA attorney general to prosecute Bob and Mary Griffith, their former pastor and the other members of their church for the suicide of Bobby Griffith.. Among others.
    Likewise, be careful what you excuse. Coaxing some hapless sucker into a criminal act is itself criminal. Suicide is merely awful.

  8. #6
    Join Date
    Saturday, October 5th, 2013
    Last Online
    @
    Location
    In the mainstream of American life.
    Posts
    15,844
    Post Thanks / Like
    Quote Originally Posted by Newman View Post
    I guess not. But your comparison leaves out the most important, "active ingredient": the villain here was interacting, encouraging the victim, not merely scrawling an insult on a wall somewhere.

    It's a difference that makes all the difference.

    Likewise, be careful what you excuse. Coaxing some hapless sucker into a criminal act is itself criminal. Suicide is merely awful.
    Not legally or logically. Those who agree with the conviction are doing so from an emotional perspective, including the judge. Objectively, legally, it's wrong.

    I'm not excusing anything. I think she's probably pretty much on par morally with those kids in FL who laughed while the man drowned. That's not a legal issue, though. The only question the law can answer is whether she 1) engaged in conduct that 2)was "wanton or reckless" and caused an "unlawful killing." Without all 3 elements, no crime.
    No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws. This offer VALID in 35 34 33 32 31 26 20 17 15 14 13 ALL 50 states.

    The new 13 original states to stand up for freedom: CA, CT, IA, MA, DE, MN, NH, NY, RI, VT, ME, MD, NJ (plus DC).

  9. Likes 80zephyr liked this post
  10. #7
    Join Date
    Friday, November 1st, 2013
    Last Online
    Today @ 2:15 PM
    Posts
    12,230
    Post Thanks / Like
    Quote Originally Posted by Celeste Chalfonte View Post
    Not legally or logically. Those who agree with the conviction are doing so from an emotional perspective, including the judge. Objectively, legally, it's wrong.

    I'm not excusing anything. I think she's probably pretty much on par morally with those kids in FL who laughed while the man drowned. That's not a legal issue, though. The only question the law can answer is whether she 1) engaged in conduct that 2)was "wanton or reckless" and caused an "unlawful killing." Without all 3 elements, no crime.
    Then the law needs to catch up. And I don't mean to pretend such catching up is easy. We're trying to find another line between free or illegal speech. The view is that the power of this new manner of communication, its potential to persuade and do harm, justify legal sanctions on its excesses.

    Perhaps this collective judgment more resembles jury nullification. One that I can support for a change.

  11. #8
    Join Date
    Friday, November 1st, 2013
    Last Online
    Today @ 2:15 PM
    Posts
    12,230
    Post Thanks / Like
    Quote Originally Posted by Celeste Chalfonte View Post
    I'm not excusing anything. I think she's probably pretty much on par morally with those kids in FL who laughed while the man drowned.
    I'm just curious, and I don't know the legal answer.

    If you walk by a tractor trailer truck in a Wal-Mart parking lot and hear banging from the inside and maybe cries for help, can you simply ignore it with impunity?

  12. #9
    Join Date
    Saturday, October 5th, 2013
    Last Online
    @
    Location
    In the mainstream of American life.
    Posts
    15,844
    Post Thanks / Like
    Quote Originally Posted by Newman View Post
    Then the law needs to catch up. And I don't mean to pretend such catching up is easy. We're trying to find another line between free or illegal speech. The view is that the power of this new manner of communication, its potential to persuade and do harm, justify legal sanctions on its excesses.

    Perhaps this collective judgment more resembles jury nullification. One that I can support for a change.
    But that is precisely the issue: the state could have passed a law directly applicable to this situation. It still could, but it would only affect future defendants, because as to this defendant, it's ex post facto, which is unconstitutional. The new law, of course, would be subject to challenge as an unconstitutional restraint on free speech. But the fact that the legislature did not have the foresight to pass the law before this occurred means she should go free, and if the perceived injustice of that sparks a movement toward laws prohibiting the encouragement to suicide, we'll have to judge that on its own merits.

    Personally, I think that the situation is probably self-limiting and should be left to the civil courts. It should be an uninsurable risk, and should proceed directly against the at-fault party (not parents or some "legal defense fund"). If the person is found liable, the verdict should be proportional to their means (IOW, all punitive damages) and come out of every paycheck they ever earn until it's paid off or they die.
    No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws. This offer VALID in 35 34 33 32 31 26 20 17 15 14 13 ALL 50 states.

    The new 13 original states to stand up for freedom: CA, CT, IA, MA, DE, MN, NH, NY, RI, VT, ME, MD, NJ (plus DC).

  13. #10
    Join Date
    Saturday, October 5th, 2013
    Last Online
    @
    Location
    In the mainstream of American life.
    Posts
    15,844
    Post Thanks / Like
    Quote Originally Posted by Newman View Post
    I'm just curious, and I don't know the legal answer.

    If you walk by a tractor trailer truck in a Wal-Mart parking lot and hear banging from the inside and maybe cries for help, can you simply ignore it with impunity?
    Absent an unusual law to the contrary, yes. There is no general duty to rescue, unless you contributed somehow to putting the person in danger.
    No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws. This offer VALID in 35 34 33 32 31 26 20 17 15 14 13 ALL 50 states.

    The new 13 original states to stand up for freedom: CA, CT, IA, MA, DE, MN, NH, NY, RI, VT, ME, MD, NJ (plus DC).

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •