CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Slane on Bias Crimes and Online Communication

Andrea Slane (University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT), Legal Studies) has posted Motion to Dismiss: Bias Crime, Online Communication, and the Sex Lives of Others in NJ v Ravi (in Valerie Steeves and Jane Bailey, eds. eGirls, eCitizens: Putting Technology, Theory and Policy Into Dialogue with Girls’ and Young Women’s Voices. (University of Ottawa Press, 2015): 253-280) on SSRN. Here is the abstract:

In 2010, first-year Rutgers University student Dharun Ravi surreptitiously used his webcam to observe his roommate, Tyler Clementi, having a sexual encounter with another man in the dorm room they shared. Criminal charges laid against Ravi included four counts of invasion of privacy, each enhanced by bias intimidation on the basis of Clementi's sexual orientation. He denied all charges and refused a plea deal, publicly insisting that he did not harbour any prejudice against gay people. As the case proceeded to court, the defence filed a series of motions attempting to have the case dismissed, arguing that the evidence did not support the charges, especially those regarding bias. This motion record contains a large quantity of online communications evidence. This chapter elaborates on legal arguments put forward by the defence in relation to the bias intimidation charges, focusing on how the online communications evidence operates in relation to the parties' efforts to deny or affirm a finding of bias intimidation. That evidence provides a rich opportunity to consider how online communications and associated offline behaviours challenge legal understandings of what constitutes criminal activity online.

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