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Leon Walker  (Source: CBS News)
Leon Walker goes to trial February 7

A Michigan man is going to trial for a felony charge after logging onto his now ex-wife's Gmail account and reading her emails, where he found that she was cheating on him. 

Leon Walker, 33, a resident of Rochester Hills, Michigan and computer technician with Oakland County, could be sentenced up to five years in prison for a felony computer misuse charge, which is an Internet law made to protect against identity theft and stealing of trade secrets. 

Walker logged on to a laptop that both he and his then-wife, Clara Walker, had shared. Her password was supposedly saved in the Gmail login. What Walker had found was that Clara was allegedly cheating on him with a previous husband.

Clara was married twice before marrying Walker. The emails Walker found suggested that Clara was having an affair with her second husband, who was arrested at an earlier time for beating Clara in front of her son from her first marriage. 

In an attempt to avoid any more possible domestic violence, and to protect the child from having to witness or be apart of it, Walker printed the emails and gave them to Clara's first husband. He then filed an emergency motion to obtain custody of the child. 

In February 2009, Walker was arrested for giving Clara's first husband the emails. Oakland County Prosecutor Jessica Cooper decided to charge Walker, calling him a skilled "hacker" who obtained the emails in a "contentious way."

"I was doing what I had to do," said Walker in an interview with the Detroit Free Press. "We're talking about putting a child in danger."

Walker has been out on bond since "shortly after his arrest." His divorce with Clara was final earlier this month, and he is now facing a trial for the felony computer misuse charge on Feb. 7. 

According to Leon Weiss, who represents Walker in the felony computer misuse case, Walker is being wrongly charged, since this Internet law is meant to specifically target those who hack government computers. 

"If the Michigan legislature had wanted to prohibit one spouse living under the same roof, with a shared computer, from reading a spouse's email, they could have constructed the statute to prohibit that," said Weiss during an interview with the Wall Street Journal Law Blog. "There is no real expectation of privacy in email. It's too out there."

Clara's representative during the divorce proceedings, Michael McCulloch, refused to comment on the felony charges against Walker.

Frederick Lane, an electronic privacy expert, reported to the Detroit Free Press that this whole case is a "legal grey area," and that Walker may have a chance at a good outcome since the laptop was shared.


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absurd
By magreen on 12/28/2010 12:16:16 PM , Rating: 5
What an egregious abuse of prosecutorial discretion.

Oakland County Prosecutor Jessica Cooper should be hauled out in the media and publicly shamed for this abuse, until they severely reprimand her and drop the charges.




RE: absurd
By Samus on 12/28/2010 12:25:53 PM , Rating: 2
What we're not hearing about is the roll of Clara's first husband in this. Who is he to have the power in getting this snowball rolling?


RE: absurd
By Suntan on 12/28/2010 2:42:37 PM , Rating: 5
I’m guessing the first husband is the child’s biological father. In which case he would have every right to fight for sole custody if someone else (3rd husband) informed him with credible evidence that the mother is potentially subjecting his child to an abusive home setting.

-Suntan


RE: absurd
By KentState on 12/28/2010 12:39:52 PM , Rating: 2
Seems that prosecutors like this want to set some legal precedence and railroad a man that is trying to protect children. Guess having her name out there is more important than the merits of the charges.


RE: absurd
By Yames on 12/28/2010 1:23:53 PM , Rating: 3
"skilled hacker" what just because he is a computer tech? I bet he used cached/saved credentials, and when is it unlawful to read your spouses correspondence. This whole thing stinks of the prosecutors personal agenda.


RE: absurd
By bah12 on 12/28/2010 1:30:16 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
and when is it unlawful to read your spouses correspondence
It really all depends on the state law. Some states treat a married couple as "one", and everything is communal property. In my state this absolutely would not fly as SHE or I have no belongings only WE do. Some states are not this way, and not everything is communal.


RE: absurd
By Yames on 12/28/2010 1:39:14 PM , Rating: 2
It's the same in my state as well. I can see this being an issue if the state law does not consider correspondence communal property. If that is the case then sure he was invading her privacy, although I still personally disagree with that stance as it blurs the lines of what a married couple is.


RE: absurd
By bah12 on 12/28/2010 3:43:11 PM , Rating: 2
FYI...Of course now that I've actually looked it up this is not a community property state, so as I suspected the state law here is not the same. Found out something interesting only 9 states are community property, I would have guessed far more.


RE: absurd
By tmouse on 1/3/2011 8:40:11 AM , Rating: 2
Community property has nothing to do with the legal status of a married couple, it’s merely the way property is divided after divorce (communal = 50/50 separate is by percentage contributed by each person). Even without community property email is not protected. If it were Google would be out of business. A shared computer and a cached password would also destroy such a claim.


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