Michigan Court of Appeals Refuses to Grant New Trial in Clio e-mail Case

In 2006, four people were convicted in an e-mail scandal in Clio after allegedly hacking into thousands of e-mails belonging to Clio schools Superintendent Fay Latture. The four individuals who allegedly accessed Latture’s e-mail account in 2005 without authorization include Diane Reed, Larry Emmerling, Rebecca Freifeld, and Julia Keyes. In February of 2006, all four were sentenced to probation, one month in jail, and more than $1,000 in fines. All four had pleaded guilty to tampering with the victim’s e-mail messages, and were sentenced for conspiracy to fraudulently access a computer.

Larry Emmerling is a former school board member; Rebecca Freifeld is former Clio City Commissioner, and Diane Reed a former teacher. Latture’s lawsuit claimed that Julia Keyes, a Clio resident, and Rebecca Freifeld violated her privacy and co-conspired when hacking into her e-mail account, causing emotional harm. In March of 2011, a Genesee Circuit Court ruled in the victim’s favor, ordering a total of $375,000 be paid to Latture. Judge Judith Fullerton ordered Keyes to pay Latture $125,000, and Freifeld to pay $250,000. Claims against Reed and Emmerling were dismissed.

The defendants appealed the verdict based on a claim of First Amendment right “to expose what they believed were matters of public concerns.” On Tuesday September 17, the Michigan Court of Appeals upheld the verdict ruling that Latture’s emails had been read more than 9,000 times by the defendants, and were private. The court also found that the actions of the defendants had caused emotional distress which was intentionally inflicted by the defendants.

Whether you have been convicted for conspiracy to fraudulently access a computer, home invasion, robbery, drug trafficking, or even homicide, it may be to your advantage to appeal the decision. People are wrongly convicted for crimes they did not commit every day; even those who are guilty of the crime they are accused of sometimes face sentencing that is harsher than usual. If you have been wrongfully convicted or feel that the sentence handed down was unusually harsh, consult with a skilled Michigan criminal appeals attorney who will review your case to determine if you may have grounds to appeal.

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