Monday, May 24, 2004

Legal challenge: The San Jose Mercury News reports the California Supreme Court on Thursday will hear arguments in a 2001 case involving a high school student was convicted in juvenile court of violating a criminal threats statute after handing "dark poetry" to a classmate. The poem read, in part, "I can be the next kid to bring guns to kill students at school":

"For school officials and law enforcement, the case is seen as an opportunity for the state's high court to provide guidance for when something a student has said or written should be sufficient to warrant a trip into the juvenile justice system. School officials have increasingly turned over cases of threatening behavior to police, prompting concerns among civil liberties groups that normal student expressions of inner turmoil are being treated like crimes instead of social and mental health problems."

The student's cause has been championed by Michael Chabon and the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, among others. "If students are punished for doing what psychologists and school counselors say they should do, they will not stop having bad feelings," the CBLDF wrote in briefs to the court. "But they will stop expressing them."