Court Considers Whether Teen's Violent Poetry is Criminal

The California Supreme Court heard oral arguments today in a case in which a 15 year old student was convicted and spent 100 days in juvenile hall for writing a violent poem. Sample phrases:

"For I can be the next kid to bring guns to kill students at school." Another reads: "For I am Dark, Destructive & Dangerous."

What's at stake?

The case weighs free speech rights against the government's responsibility to provide safety in schools after campus shootings nationwide....This is a classic case of a person expressing himself and trying to communicate his feelings through a poem," attorney Michael Kresser told the court, which gave no clear indication whether it would overturn the conviction. Chief Justice Ronald George and other justices wondered aloud whether George T.'s statements were protected speech because they were presented as verses in a poem.

What law was George T. convicted of?

The law in question, usually invoked in domestic violence cases, carries a maximum one-year term for criminal threats that convey an "immediate prospect of execution." The lower courts found that this threat met that definition, a decision the boy's attorney argued was unfounded.

We side with the student. For one thing, where's the immediacy?

Update: Avedon Carol of Sideshow astutely comments on the War on Kids.

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