Friday, May 16, 2014

You've Gotta Fight...For Your Annoy

In this interesting opinion, the New York Court of Appeals (the highest appellate court in New York) struck down a penal statute as unconstitutionally vague. The statute defined the crime of Aggravated Harassment in the Second Degree as communicating with the intent to "harass, annoy threaten or a manner likely to cause annoyance or alarm."

The defendant's father is a renowned expert on the Dead Sea Scrolls (above), and the defendant apparently used psedonyms to attack his father's academic rivals online, even opening email accounts in those rivals' names and sending emails purportedly written by them. The defendant was conviced under the harassment statute and appealed. Predictably, the court held there is no clear, universal understanding of what is meant by "in a manner likely to cause annoyance or alarm" because, of course, what's likely to cause annoyance for some isn't likely to cause annoyance for others.

The opinion's a win for the defendant, but a loss for the rest of us, who might have been able to use the statute to get rid of those annoying Kardashians...

The matter is State v. Golb, and you can find a New York times article about the case and opinion here.

Happy Friday!

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