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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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RE: What the....
By Yames on 12/28/2010 1:28:56 PM , Rating: 5
Even if he used a key logger, does that make it unlawful? First, it was their computer and second it was his wife's email account.

I can open up my wife's mail even if she locks it in a box in our house and I pick the lock, can't I?


RE: What the....
By priusone on 12/28/2010 2:28:10 PM , Rating: 2
I guess it depends on what state you live in and how much money your spouse has in their war chest.


RE: What the....
By Anoxanmore on 12/28/2010 4:14:47 PM , Rating: 1
No you cannot open someone else's mail if it is not addressed to you.

I thought it was common knowledge that this, opening another person's mail, is a federal offense.


RE: What the....
By deltaend on 12/28/2010 5:16:02 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
by Anoxanmore on December 28, 2010 at 4:14 PM

No you cannot open someone else's mail if it is not addressed to you.

I thought it was common knowledge that this, opening another person's mail, is a federal offense.


Federal delivered mail is not equal to electronically delivered email. They are far different with very different sets of rules. It is not a federal offense to read someone else's email, print it out, or deliver it to someone else. It could fall under other laws, but that is why this is a "grey area".


RE: What the....
By Anoxanmore on 12/28/2010 5:43:39 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
by deltaend on December 28, 2010 at 5:16 PM

Federal delivered mail is not equal to electronically delivered email. They are far different with very different sets of rules. It is not a federal offense to read someone else's email, print it out, or deliver it to someone else. It could fall under other laws, but that is why this is a "grey area".


Well I was replying to this one... =^-^=

quote:

By Yames on 12/28/2010 1:28:56 PM

I can open up my wife's mail even if she locks it in a box in our house and I pick the lock, can't I?


RE: What the....
By HrilL on 12/29/2010 5:20:01 PM , Rating: 2
I'm not so sure. A married couple are considered 'one person' in the eyes of the Law. This is the reason a husband can't be forced to testify against his wife, and a wife can't be forced to testify against her husband.

Its also why if one spouse gets sue both must foot the bill.


RE: What the....
By tmouse on 1/3/2011 8:31:11 AM , Rating: 2
Wrong.

Even with US mail once it’s delivered the government has no concern/say what so ever in the matter. It has been upheld many times that ANYTHING left on your desk at work other than items in a case or handbag loses any expectation of privacy, so your boss can read your mail if you leave it on your desk. Where he could be in trouble is disseminating the information to a third party. E-mail has NEVER had an expectation of privacy since in theory it goes through many hands. Whoever pays for the email owns it, so in this case they both probably own the mail. A shared computer and the fact she stored the password further diminishes the claim to privacy. Your mail provider can also check your mail with no repercussions, that’s why Google offers free email. Now disclosing the information to others is a different matter.


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