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Teen's free speech rights restored after judge deems her a delinquent

In a victory for free-speech rights, a three-judge panel overturned a judge's verdict that a juvenile committed harassment, identity deception and identity theft on a MySpace page, reports the South Bend Tribune The judges determined that the juvenile, called A.B.
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In a victory for free-speech rights, a three-judge panel overturned a judge's verdict that a juvenile committed harassment, identity deception and identity theft on a MySpace page, reports the South Bend Tribune

The judges determined that the juvenile, called A.B., had her free-speech rights violated when the Putnam Circuit Court placed her on probation for posting an expletive on MySpace criticizing a principal over school policy on body piercings.

"While we have little regard for A.B.'s use of vulgar epithets, we conclude that her overall message constitutes political speech," Judge Patricia Riley wrote in the 10-page opinion.

The principal Shawn Gobert of Greencastle Middle School discovered A.B.'s Web page that was purportedly created by Gobert. It stated that Gobert could no longer ''control'' her and that she would wear her piercings as she wished.

Although most of the original charges were dropped, the juvenile court found A.B. to be a delinquent child and placed her on nine months of probation after ruling that comments were obscene.

In her appeal, lawyers for A.B. argued that her speech was protected under both the state and federal constitutions because they dealt with school policy.

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