IL Cyber Stalking Law Invalidated Under Elonis

IL Cyber Stalking Law
Invalidated Under Elonis

In the 2015 case Elonis v United States, the Supreme Court threw out a conviction for threats made over Facebook where there was no requirement that the defendant had intended to cause fear or emotional distress to the target.

The Illinois Appellate Court relied on Elonis to overturn the conviction of Walter Relerford who had stalked employees at Clear Channel (CCME) in Chicago and then made a series of threatening Facebook posts that included:

In his first post, defendant demanded a job at CCME and, in a somewhat rambling manner, made a thinly veiled threat towards CCME’s employees if he was not given a job.

In his second post, defendant wrote, “[t]he order: If Sonya’s vagina is not in my mouth by next Friday, bury the entire Michigan State football team from 1993. That’s the order. Send it through. One hundred.”

Defendant’s third post described his affection for Blakey and long-held desire to obtain employment at CCME.

Defendant’s fourth post stated “How am I gay? I want to fuck Sonya. There’s nothing gay about that.”

Lastly, defendant’s fifth post contained a disjointed statement about Blakey, CCME, and an unidentified group of “Chinese people” whom defendant claimed were “talking about killing everyone” at CCME.

The court, however, threw out the conviction since Elonis makes clear that it is not communicating something that is unlawful, but doing so with intent to inflict emotional distress is.  Like the statute in Elonis, the Illinois law only required that the defendant “knows or should know” that his conduct would cause a “reasonable person” to  suffer emotional distress but contained no requirement that the individual actually intend to inflict emotional suffering on a person.

The lack of a mens rea requirement renders the statute facially unconstitutional under the due process clause of the fourteenth amendment.

One thought on “IL Cyber Stalking Law Invalidated Under Elonis

  1. Pingback: CLBR #227: Matthew Kerbel on Netroots Activism – Cyber Law & Business Report

Comments are closed.