Well, it's shaping up to be a juicy time at the trial of psycho-mom Lori Drew, the woman whose weirdo obsession with a neighbor girl led to the teen's MySpace-driven suicide.
A long list of witnesses are poised to testify, Wired reports, including the parents of Megan Meier, the 13-year-old girl who committed suicide; Ashley Grills, who helped set up a phony MySpace account used to harass Meier; Jessica Mulford, a neighborhood teen who sent a message to Meier in the guise of "Josh," a character Drew created to communicate with Meier; and Jessica's mother, Michele Mulford, who said Drew called her daugher after the suicide to tell her to "keep her mouth shut."
And there's more: Drew's hairdresser (Drew supposedly confided in her about the hoax as it unfolded) and a deputy sheriff who spoke with Drew after Meier's suicide.
U.S. District Judge George Wu gave the defense extra time to review prospective jurors' responses after it became clear there was pretty strong negative feeling towards Drew. Asked if they could be impartial in the case, several jurors said no, only to reverse themselves when asked to explain.
One woman indicated a bias based on personal history. Her daughter's best friend had committed suicide and her husband's nephew was accused of harassing someone through MySpace. She said, however, that she thought she could approach Drew's case objectively.
Another woman told Wu, "I heard so many bad things about the internet and MySpace ... I see in the news all the time how dangerous it is."
A young male prospective juror said a female friend had been the victim of cyberbullying in high school. He also said he worked with youth groups through his church and had strong feelings about how people use the internet maliciously, and about people who abuse children. His answers seemed to betray a desire to stay off the jury. But then he, too, said he felt he could be impartial.
Nothing that happens in court can be odder than the basis of the charges against Drew: that she violated MySpace's license agreement with intent to inflict harm on Megan. The basis of the charge is that she violated the federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act by lying about herself, soliciting personal information from a minor, and using information from MySpace to harm Megan.
The tort is not Megan's suicide but the emotional distress she suffered. It's a novel use of an anti-hacking law to punish a terrible but probably not criminal act. But if Drew can be punished within the law, I'm all for it.