Michigan Prosecutors File Felony Charges Against Husband for Email Snooping
Leon Walker is facing felony charges of fraudulent access
to a computer, for logging into his ex-wife's Gmail account, during the pendency of the couple's divorce proceedings. If convicted, Walker faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. MCL 752.795.
Walker's attorney is accusing the Oakland County Prosecutor's Office of harassment, and is optimistic that his client will beat the charges. He says that the law, which prohibits the intentional and unauthorized access to computers, computer programs, systems & networks, was not intended to punish actions such as these. And he apparently has support from members of the Michigan state legislature.
State Rep. Tom McMillin told the Oakland Press that if prosecutors continued to pursue the charges against Walker, he would immediately introduce legislation to clarify that spouses and parents who read their children’s e-mails are exempted from the statute. McMillan also called the case harassment and a waste of taxpayers’ money. “After reviewing the state statute and the original bill, it is clear there was never an intention for this law to be used to go after spouses. Since it appears at least one prosecutor in the state can’t see that, I’ll introduce legislation early next year to clarify ... the obvious."
I haven't seen all the evidence, but from what's been reported thus far, I wouldn't expect a conviction. Even if he's acquitted or the charges are dismissed, however, Leon Walker will have still paid a large price for the Oakland County Prosecutor's lack of discretion. Prosecutors have a duty to serve their constituents, by protecting them from criminals. The American criminal justice system places a lot of discretion in prosecutors, because police refer a case to the prosecutor, it is ultimately the prosecutor's decision whether to file charges on behalf of the state. It seems from these facts that the Oakland County Prosecutor's Office abused the discretion, which is a disgrace to his office, and to our system of justice.