2 quick constitutional questions re: Santee

  1. Why is the press disclosing the identity of the alleged killer? I thought that juveniles were protected…

  2. In the light of these events, if I told someone that I was going to take a gun to school (as a parody), could I be arrested for merely “saying” that?

And BTW, for those of you whom might be a little high-strung about #2, I don’t own a gun, I don’t go to school anymore, and I wouldn’t even dream of doing that. It’s purely hypothetical.

1a) California has a law on the books (Prop 21?) which mandates that this boy be tried as an adult, though the prosecutor cannot seek the death penalty. WAG - Perhaps because he is being tried as an adult he can be identified.
1b) We know the identities of all of the underage perpetrators of school shootings. WAG - Perhaps the police and courts are prohibited from releaseing the identities, but the media can if obtained through friends, family, etc.

  1. It depends on exactly what you said. If you just said “I’m going to take a gun to school” you could not be criminally prosecuted. In general, talking about a crime is not illegal. You could, however, be subject to discipline by the school. If you said “I’m going to take a gun to school and shoot someone” you could be arrested and prosecuted for making terroristic threats. Like yelling “Fire!” in a crowded theatre, specific threats are not considered protected speech.

To amplify the previous post, the authorities generally don’t disclose the name of juvenile defendants, however, if the press finds out the name, there is no way for the authorities to prevent the disclosure of that juvenile’s identity.

I think Proposition 21, which was just passed in November, practically requires the DA to go for an adult prosecution of the suspect.

I’m going to try like heck to find cites for both. I bet I won’t be able to find the more severe one. <sigh> Lemme try.

It is a violation of Federal law to state an intention to kill the President of The United States. Darned if I can find the actual cite, dammit.

It is also a violation of Federal law to make remarks, even in a joking matter, about transport of bombs or other weapons in a Secured Airport. Doesn’t give detail of the law, but this is the FAA page that refers to violations on this topic.


And of course, these aren’t really Constitutional questions at all.

Um, I would think that free speech would be as constitutional as it gets.

And the “right to privacy” was borne from the Supreme Court’s interpretation of said document.

OK, I was completely wrong, they are Constitutional questions. :slight_smile:

The first was addressed in the Supreme Court case Smith v. Daily Mail Publishing.

Part of the decision was:

On the second, even if it was a threat, it might still be allowed. This was addressed by the SCOTUS in the case of Brandenburg v. Ohio. The relevant bit is:

Interpret this as you wish.

I don’t think the Brandenburg decision is applicable here. That was supposed to cover situations where someone gets up in public and says, “Person X over there is a person who deserves to die. Let’s go over and kill him.”

The case in the OP is threats made by an individual about what he would do on his own.

This seems a little murky.

“I’m going to take a gun to school.” = legal, protected
“I’m going to take a gun to school and kill someone.” = unprotected?

I would agree with you if the statement were,“I’m going to take a gun to school and kill Dr. Jackson.” There I have made a specific threat. Is the second statement really a terroristic threat?

I gather we’re assuming that it is legal to take the gun onto school grounds, and it’s only the use that’s illegal?

I’m just asking about the actual speech, not the action, SmackFu. Remember how people wearing trenchcoats were harassed after Columbine? In the light of how the press is covering Santee (e.g. he told me he was going to do it, but i didn’t believe him)…I’m sure that we will get a wave of arrests by over-stimulated parents looking for a problem in their own hometown.

I did a search on the word “Threat” in an online version of the California Penal Code and I came up with numerous hits. It looks to me that if you say, “I am going to go out and kill X number of people” that you can be prosecuted for that.

I would assume that it’s up to a court to decide how serious the threat is. I’m sure someone who is a lawyer would be able to tell us whether or not overt action needs to be taken to get a prosecution.

Murky it is. Where exactly is the line drawn? I’m not sure that can be answered except on a case by case basis. One of the things this kid allegedly said is “I’m going to pull a Columbine”. That sounds like a specific threat to me even though no names are mentioned. I loosely translated “pull a Columbine” to “kill someone”.

What makes this such a grey area is proving intent. Suppose I’m having a bad day at work. I’m blowing off steam and say “I’m gonna shoot/kill/hurt/maim somebody!”. Is that prosecutable? No, it’s a figure of speech and too general to be considered a real threat. Suppose HR is at the root of my problem. I say “I’m going to shoot/kill/hurt/maim somebody in HR”. That’s pretty specific, but is is prosecutable? Probably not - unless you can prove that I intended it as a real threat. It still could be considered a figure of speech. Now, if I said “I’m going to go to HR tomorrow and shoot anybody I see” you may have a case. The wording is getting too specific to be a figure of speech and could be construed by a reasonable person as a threat.

This kid’s friends took him seriously enough to frisk him before school that morning.

Taking a gun onto or even near school grounds is in itself a federal crime.

I don’t know about the constitutionality of such things, but it is certainly done.

Shortly after the Columbine hysteria, a senior at the high school I was then attending in Santa Rosa, CA made such a threatening remark. I believe it was along the lines of: “I’m going to buy a gun and shoot someone soon.” I don’t think that a specific Mr. Someone was mentioned. However, my memory on exact details may be sketchy. The remark was not made at school.

Not only did they arrest him, but they were able to search his home. I don’t know if they got a search warrant or if his parents allowed the police in. They found that he did not have a gun (although he had recently turned 18, and could have purchased one). They also found he had a collection of knives, some legal, some illegal, but all in display cases.

He was expelled from school and I don’t know if he was tried for a crime. All the while he said that it was nothing but a joke in bad taste.