Technology often is ahead of laws by gazillion miles. This is why sometimes we often hear about cases go to trials without clear confidence that the judge, the jury, the defendants, and the accusers are in their right minds. The laws often are outdated and needed to be updated to fit with time and technology, or else someone ought to be having a court battle of the wrong conviction. Anyhow, a new case has caught my attention which is about a substitute teacher, 52 year-old Clements-Jeffrey, sues a software company for violating her privacy and fourth and fourteenth amendment rights.
The software company was successfully tracked down the stolen laptop which was stoled from Clark County School District’s public library by a student, but the laptop wasn’t in the vicinity of the thief, instead the police had arrested the substitute teacher for the stolen laptop. It turned out the substitute teacher had bought the stolen laptop from the student without knowing it was stolen. The police released the substitute teacher and dismissed all charges against her, and everything supposed to end there; unfortunately, the software company had downloaded the naked images/photos of Clements-Jeffrey and showed those images to the police officers. The police officers were joked about those photos when they arrested her. Those naked photos of Clements-Jeffrey were meant to be seen by her lover only.
So, the question is the software company has done something wrong here? We know the software company carried out its job/service for the school successfully by tracking down the stolen laptop, but the software company had also obtained naked images from Clements-Jeffrey without her permission. With that in mind, it seemed the substitute teacher had the right to sue the software company since she wasn’t charged with any misdeed. Nonetheless, should the software company acquire additional information such as images to identify the thieves without their permissions? The software company had handed those naked images of Clements-Jeffrey over to the police officers, because witholding evidence, if the images considered to be evidence, would be wrong, right? Then again, should the software company only had to point out the locations of the thieves and allowed the police officers/authorities to gather evidences? If it was the police officers who had obtained the naked images of Clements-Jeffrey first, should she have the right to sue the police officers/department? Obviously, Clements-Jeffrey was freed from all criminal charges and so she had the right to sue the oppositions to compensate her disposition, but will the laws allow the thieves to have the same opportunity as Clements-Jeffrey as well if indeed that they are in her situation?
Obviously, I don’t know jack about the laws, but I do know something about common sense. Unfortunately, common sense does not dictate who is guilty and who isn’t so, because only the laws of the land can dictate such terms. Furthermore, sometimes common sense does not have a clear approach to solving cases that won’t conform with time. Sometimes, even new laws have to be written to complement the inadequate legal system. In this case, my common sense tells me jack, because it’s obvious that Clements-Jeffrey’s privacy and her amendment rights were violated, but the software company wasn’t an outright evil-doer (i.e., their job is to track down the stolen laptop). It’s interesting to see the outcome of this case, because it might be something worth to be dissected for future cases.
Meanwhile according to Digital Life, U.S. District Court Judge Walter H. Rice had allowed the case to proceed. You can read the judge’s 49 page decision here.
Source: http://digitallife.today.com/_news/2011/09/01/7554439-tracking-no-excuse-to-record-teachers-naked-chat-pics, http://www.wired.com/images_blogs/threatlevel/2011/08/Clements-Jeffrey-v.-Springfield.pdf