NYLJ Article on Cyberstalking Case Quotes Lewis
Shari Claire Lewis was quoted in a New York Law Journal article entitled, “Bharara Using Rare Cyberstalking Statute in Bomb Threat Case.” The story discusses the Southern District’s prosecution of Juan Thompson, suspected of making bomb threats to Jewish Community Centers to harass is ex-girlfriend. The complaint charges Thompson with causing her “substantial emotional distress,” a mens rea standard constained in 18 USC Section 2661A(2), rather than charging him with committing a hate crime.
In the article, Lewis noted that the statute is “relatively new and untested.” She said she is surprised that prosecutors did not choose a hate crime charge, surmising that perhaps they did not have enough evidence to do so. Although defense attorneys may raise First Amendment objections against the charges, Lewis said she didn’t think this would be helpful in Thompson case. Rather, there may be a chance to raise Fifth Amendment due process concerns based on the statute’s vagueness.
Although this strategy likely would not succeed, Lewis concluded, “People know what harassment means, and ‘extreme distress’ is a term of art that is used all the time.”