MO Court Voids Suicide-Inspired Law on Unwanted Communications


Missouri’s Supreme Court struck down part of the anti-stalking and harassment law that was prompted by the 2007 suicide of 13-year-old Megan Meier, reports the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The court invalidated language that allow charges against anyone who “knowingly makes repeated unwanted communication to another person” and who “without good cause engages in any other act with the purpose to frighten, intimidate, or cause emotional distress to another person.”

Judge William Ray Price Jr. said that, “although the statute purports to criminalize ‘harassment,’ (this) subdivision, unlike the other subdivisions, does not require the conduct to actually harass in any sense of the word.” He wrote that the vague wording could result in charges against individuals who keep picketing after being told their protests are unwanted, a Salvation Army bell-ringer who asks for donations after being told a passer-by is uninterested, or a teacher who calls on a student who previously asked to be left alone. The 2008 law was prompted by the case of Meier, who killed herself after learning that the person she believed to be her online boyfriend was a fake, and after receiving taunts from those in on the hoax.

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