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Griffin v State 19 a 3d 415 | 419 Md 343

Griffin v State 19 a 3d 415 | 419 Md 343

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5/31/12Griffin v. State, 19 A. 3d 415 - Md: Court of Appeals 2011 - Google Scholar1/8scholar.google.com/scholar_case?q=419+Md.+343&hl=en&as_sdt=4,21&case=383511361965188584…
19A.3d415(2011)419Md.343
AntoineLevarGRIFFINv.STATEofMaryland.
No.74,SeptemberTerm,2010. April28,2011.
CourtofAppealsofMaryland.
*416
KatherineP.Rasin,Asst.PublicDefender(PaulB.DeWolfe,PublicDefender,Baltimore,MD),onbrief,forpetitioner/cross-respondent.
416
RobertTaylor,Jr.,Asst.Atty.Gen.(DouglasF.Gansler,Atty.Gen.ofMaryland,Baltimore,MD),onbrief,forrespondent/cross-petitioner. ArguedbyBELL,C.J.,HARRELL,BATTAGLIA,GREENE,MURPHY,ADKINSandBARBERA,JJ.BATTAGLIA,J.Inthiscase,wearetaskedwithdeterminingtheappropriatewaytoauthenticate,forevidentialpurposes,electronicallystoredinformationprintedfromasocial
*417
networkingwebsite,
[1]
inparticular,MySpace.
[2]
 
417
 AntoineLevarGriffin,Petitioner,seeksreversalofhisconvictionsintheCircuitCourtforCecilCounty,contendingthatthetrialjudgeabusedhisdiscretioninadmitting,withoutproperauthentication,whattheStateallegedwereseveralpagesprintedfromGriffin'sgirlfriend'sMySpaceprofile.
[3]
TheCourtofSpecialAppealsdeterminedthatthetrialjudgedidnotabusehisdiscretion,
Griffinv.State,
192Md.App.518,995A.2d791(2010),andwegrantedGriffin'sPetitionforWritofCertiorari,415Md.607,4A.3d512(2010),toconsiderthetwoquestions,whichwehaverephrased:1.DidthetrialcourterrinadmittingapageprintedfromaMySpaceprofileallegedtobethatofPetitioner'sgirlfriend?[
[4]
]2.Didthetrialcourterrinallowingtheprosecutortodefinereasonabledoubtincorrectlyoverdefenseobjection,includingsaying"itmeansthis,doyouhaveagoodreasontobelievethatsomebodyotherthanMr.GriffinwasthepersonthatshotDarvellGuest...I'mnotaskingyouwhetheryoucanspeculateandcreatesomeconstructofhypotheticalpossibilitiesthatwouldhavesomebodyelsebetheshooter....I'maskingyouthequestion,doyouhaverightnowanyreason,anyrationalreasontobelievethatsomebodyotherthanhewastheshooterorgunman?"[
[5]
]TheStatepresentedaconditionalcross-petition,whichwealsogranted,inwhichonequestionwasposed:1.IsGriffin'schallengetotheprobativevalueoftheevidencepreservedforappellatereview?[
[6]
]
*418
WeshallholdthatthepagesallegedlyprintedfromGriffin'sgirlfriend'sMySpaceprofilewerenotproperlyauthenticatedpursuanttoMarylandRule5-901,
[7]
andshall,therefore,reversethejudgmentoftheCourtofSpecialAppealsandremandthecaseforanewtrial.
 
418
Griffinwaschargedinnumerouscountswiththeshootingdeath,onApril24,2005,ofDarvellGuestatFerrari'sBarinPerryville,inCecilCounty.Duringhistrial,theStatesoughttointroduceGriffin'sgirlfriend's,JessicaBarber's,MySpaceprofiletodemonstratethat,priortotrial,Ms.Barber hadallegedlythreatenedanotherwitnesscalledbytheState.TheprintedpagescontainedaMySpaceprofileinthenameof"Sistasouljah,"describinga23year-oldfemalefromPortDeposit,listingherbirthdayas"10/02/1983"andcontainingaphotographofanembracingcouple.Theprintedpagesalsocontainedthefollowingblurb:FREEBOOZY!!!!JUSTREMEMBERSNITCHESGETSTITCHES!!UKNOWWHOYOUARE!!WhenMs.BarberhadtakenthestandafterbeingcalledbytheState,shewasnotquestionedaboutthepagesallegedlyprintedfromherMySpaceprofile.Instead,theStateattemptedtoauthenticatethepages,asbelongingtoMs.Barber,throughthetestimonyofSergeantJohnCook,theleadinvestigatorinthecase.DefensecounselobjectedtotheadmissionofthepagesallegedlyprintedfromMs.Barber'sMySpaceprofile,becausetheStatecouldnotsufficientlyestablisha"connection"betweentheprofileandpostingandMs.Barber,andsubstantively,theStatecouldnotsaywithanycertaintythatthepurported"threat"hadanyimpactonthewitness'stestimony;thelatterargumentisnotbeforeus.DefensecounselwaspermittedtovoirdireSergeantCook,outsideofthepresenceofthejury,asfollows:[DefenseCounsel]:Howdoyouknowthatthisisher[MySpace]page?....[SergeantCook]:ThroughthephotographofherandBoozyonthefront,throughthereferencetoBoozy,[]thereference[to]thechildren,and[]herbirthdateindicatedontheform.
 
5/31/12Griffin v. State, 19 A. 3d 415 - Md: Court of Appeals 2011 - Google Scholar2/8scholar.google.com/scholar_case?q=419+Md.+343&hl=en&as_sdt=4,21&case=383511361965188584…
[DefenseCounsel]:Howdoyouknowshesentit?[SergeantCook]:Ican'tsaythat.[TheCourt]:Ifailed—Iamsorry.Imisrepresented.Ifailedtorealizethereisaphotographthere.It'sintheblock
*419
thatsays"Sistasouljah,"andthenthere'saphotographofapersonthatlookslikeJessicaBarbertome.
419
[DefenseCounsel]:Whenwasitsent?[SergeantCook]:ThatisaMySpacepage.Thatwasn'tparticularlysent.Thatisontheweb,andit'saccessibletowhoeverviewsMySpace.Itisopentothepublic.[DefenseCounsel]:Iunderstandthat.Whendiditgetposted?[SergeantCook]:Theprintdateontheform,printedon12/05/06.[TheCourt]:Youcantellbylookingatitbecausethat'swhenhewenttoit.[DefenseCounsel]:Sothatwouldhavebeenafterthefirsttrial.Sohowcouldthatpossiblyaffect[thewitness]?Hesaiditwasbeforethefirsttrial.[TheCourt]:Onitsface,thereisnowaythatyoucanconcludethatonitsfacethisestablishesanythinginregardto[thewitness].Whatit'sbeingofferedfor,asIunderstandit,iscorroboration,consistencythatshe'smakingastatementinapublicforum,"snitchesgetstitches."AndIguesstheargumentisgoingtobemadethatthat'sconsistentwithwhat[thewitness]said,thatshethreatenedhim.[AssistantState'sAttorney]:That'scorrect.[TheCourt]:It'sweak.Imean,thereisnoquestionit'sweak,butthat'swhatitisofferedfor.Thetrialjudge,thereafter,indicatedthathewouldpermitSergeantCooktotestifyinsupportofauthenticationoftheredactedportionofthepagesprintedfromMySpace,containingthephotograph"ofapersonthatlookslikeJessicaBarber"andthePetitioner,allegedlyknownas"Boozy,"adjacenttoadescriptionofthewomanasa23year-oldfromPortDeposit,andtheblurb,stating"FREEBOOZY!!!!JUSTREMEMBERSNITCHESGETSTITCHES!!UKNOWWHOYOUARE!!"InlieuofSergeantCook'stestimony,whilemaintaininghisobjectiontotheadmissibilityoftheredactedMySpacepage,defensecounselagreedtothefollowingstipulation:Ifasked,SergeantCookwouldtestifythathewentontotheInternettothewebsiteknownasMySpace....[F]romthatsitehedownloadedsomeinformationofapostingthatsomeonehadputthere.ThatpostingcontainsaphotographwhichthewitnesswouldsayherecognizesasaphotographofJessica...Barber,whotestified,...thatsheisthedefendant'slive-infiance;andthatitalsocontainsadateofbirth,towitOctober2nd,1983,whichthewitnesswouldtestifyisthedateofbirththatJessicaBarbergaveasherdateofbirth.Whentheexhibit,thedownload,comestoyou,youaregoingtoseethatithasagreat—thatmostofitscontenthasbeenredacted;thatis,blackedout.That'sbecausesomeofit,inmyjudgment,mighttendtobeinflammatorywithoutprovinganythingonewayortheother.Thereisoneportionofitthatwillnotberedactedwhenitcomestoyou,andthisistheonlyportionofitwhichyoushouldconsider.Andyoucertainlyshouldnotspeculateastowhatanyoftheredactedportionsmaybe.Theportionthatwillnotberedactedsays,justremembersnitchesgetstitches.Youwillseethat.Thephraseis,justremembersnitchesgetstitches....And...thewitnesswouldtestifythatthedateitwasretrievedwas...December5,2006.WhethertheMySpaceprintoutrepresentsthatwhichitpurportstobe,notonlyaMySpaceprofilecreatedbyMs.Barber,
*420
butalsouponwhichshehadposted,"FREEBOOZY!!!!JUSTREMEMBERSNITCHESGETSTITCHES!!UKNOWWHOYOUARE!!,"istheissuebeforeus.
420
Withrespecttosocialnetworkingwebsitesingeneral,wehavealreadyhadoccasion,in
IndependentNewspapers,Inc.v.Brodie,
407Md.415,424n.3,966A.2d432,438n.3(2009),todescribethosesitesas"sophisticatedtoolsofcommunicationwheretheuservoluntarilyprovidesinformationthattheuserwantstosharewithothers."
[8]
Anumberofsocialnetworkingwebsites,suchasMySpace,enablemembers"tocreateonline`profiles,'whichareindividualwebpagesonwhichmembers[can]postphotographs,videos,andinformationabouttheirlivesandinterests."
Doev.MySpace,Inc.,
474F.Supp.2d843,845(W.D.Tex.2007). AnyonecancreateaMySpaceprofileatnocost,aslongasthatpersonhasanemailaddressandclaimstobeovertheageoffourteen:MySpaceuserscreateprofilesbyfillingoutquestionnaire-likewebforms.Usersarethenabletoconnecttheirprofilestothoseofother usersandtherebyformcommunities.MySpaceprofilescontainseveralinformationalsections,knownas"blurbs."Theseincludetwostandardblurbs:"AboutMe"and"WhoI'dLiketoMeet."Usersmaysupplementthoseblurbswithadditionalsectionsabouttheir interests,generaladditionaldetails,andotherpersonalinformation.MySpaceprofilesalsoincorporateseveralmultimediafeatures.For instance,usersmaypostphotos,music,videos,andweblogstotheirpages.RichardM.Guo,
StrangerDangerandtheOnlineSocialNetwork,
23BerkeleyTech.L.J.617,621(2008)(footnotesomitted).Afteraprofileis
 
5/31/12Griffin v. State, 19 A. 3d 415 - Md: Court of Appeals 2011 - Google Scholar3/8scholar.google.com/scholar_case?q=419+Md.+343&hl=en&as_sdt=4,21&case=383511361965188584…
established,theusermayinviteotherstoaccessherprofile,asa"friend,"whoiftheuseracceptsthebefriending,canaccessherprofilepageswithoutfurtherado:Usersestablishvirtualcommunitiesbylinkingtheirprofilesinaprocessknownas"friending"or"connecting."Oneuserrequeststoaddanotherasafriend,andtherecipientmayeitheracceptorrejecttheinvitation.Iftherecipientaccepts,theprofilesarelinkedandtheconnectedmembersaregenerallyabletoviewoneanother'sonlinecontentwithoutrestriction.Thenetworkcreatedbythelinkingprocessallowsausertochatwithfriends,displaysupportforparticularcauses,"joininterestgroupsdedicatedtovirtuallyanytopic,"andotherwise"hangout."NathanPetrashek,Comment,
TheFourthAmendmentandtheBraveNewWorldofOnlineSocialNetworking,
93Marq.L.Rev.1495,1499-1500(2009-2010)(footnotesomitted).Althoughasocialnetworkingsitegenerallyrequiresauniqueusernameandpasswordfortheusertobothestablishaprofileandaccessit,postingonthesitebythosethatbefriendtheuserdoesnot.
See
SamanthaL.Miller,Note,
TheFacebookFrontier:RespondingtotheChangingFaceofPrivacyontheInternet,
97Ky.L.J.541,544(2008-2009);EricDanowitz,
MySpaceInvasion:PrivacyRights,Libel,andLiability,
28J.Juv.L.30,37(2007).
*421
Theidentityofwhogeneratedtheprofilemaybeconfounding,because"apersonobservingtheonlineprofileofauserwithwhomtheobserver isunacquaintedhasnoideawhethertheprofileislegitimate."Petrashek,93Marq.L.Rev.at1499n.16.Theconcernarisesbecauseanyonecancreateafictitiousaccountandmasqueradeunderanotherperson'snameorcangainaccesstoanother'saccountbyobtainingtheuser'susernameandpassword:
421
 Althoughitmayseemthat,ascreatorsofourownonlinesocialnetworkingprofiles,weareabletoconstructourownonlinepersona,thisisnotalwaysthecase.Thereisnolawthatpreventssomeonefromestablishingafakeaccountunderanotherperson'sname,solongasthepurposefordoingsoisnottodeceiveothersandgainsomeadvantage.Moreover,fragmentsofinformation,eithercraftedunderourauthorityorfabricatedbyothers,areavailablebyperformingaGooglesearch...forever.Thus,onlinesocialnetworkingposestwothreats:thatinformationmaybe(1)availablebecauseofone'sownroleasthecreatorofthecontent,or(2)generatedbyathirdparty,whetherornotitisaccurate.DavidHectorMontes,
LivingOurLivesOnline:ThePrivacyImplicationsofOnlineSocialNetworking,
JournalofLawandPolicyfortheInformationSociety,Spring2009,at507,508.Forinstance,inonecircumstance,Sophos,aBoston-basedInternetsecuritycompany,createdaprofileforatoyfrognamed"FreddiStaur,"andnearly200Facebook
[9]
userschosetoaddthefrogasa"friend."Miller,97Ky.L.J.at542.
[10]
ThepossibilityforuserabusealsoexistsonMySpace,asillustratedby
UnitedStatesv.Drew,
259F.R.D.449(D.C.D.Cal.2009),inwhichLoriDrew,amother,wasprosecutedundertheComputerFraudand
*422
AbuseAct,18U.S.C.§1030,forcreatingaMySpaceprofileforafictitious16year-oldmalenamed"JoshEvans."Drewhadcontactedaformerfriendofherdaughter's,MeganMeier,throughtheMySpacenetwork,usingtheJoshEvansscreennameorpseudonym,andbeganto"flirtwithheroveranumberofdays."
Id.
at452.Drewthenhad"Josh"informMeganthathenolonger"likedher"andthat"theworldwouldbeabetterplacewithoutherinit,"afterwhichMegankilledherself.
Id.
Thus,therelativeeasewithwhichanyonecancreatefictionalpersonasorgainunauthorizedaccesstoanotheruser'sprofile,withdeleteriousconsequences,isthe
Drew 
lesson.
 
422
Thepotentialforfabricatingortamperingwithelectronicallystoredinformationonasocialnetworkingsite,thusposessignificantchallengesfromthestandpointofauthenticationofprintoutsofthesite,asinthepresentcase.Authentication,nevertheless,isgenerallygovernedbyMarylandRule5-901,whichprovides:(a)Generalprovision.Therequirementofauthenticationoridentificationasaconditionprecedenttoadmissibilityissatisfiedbyevidencesufficienttosupportafindingthatthematterinquestioniswhatitsproponentclaims.PotentialmethodsofauthenticationareillustratedinRule5-901(b).ThemostgermanetothepresentinquiryareRules5-901(b)(1)and5-901(b)(4),whichstate:(b)Illustrations.Bywayofillustrationonly,andnotbywayoflimitation,thefollowingareexamplesofauthenticationoridentificationconformingwiththerequirementsofthisRule:(1)Testimonyofwitnesswithknowledge.Testimonyofawitnesswithknowledgethattheofferedevidenceiswhatitisclaimedtobe.
[11]
***(4)Circumstantialevidence.Circumstantialevidence,suchasappearance,contents,substance,internalpatterns,location,orother distinctivecharacteristics,thattheofferedevidenceiswhatitisclaimedtobe.WeandourcolleaguesontheCourtofSpecialAppealshavehadtheopportunitytoapplythetenetsofRule5-901(b)(4)toatoxicologyreport,
Statev.Bryant,
361Md.420,761A.2d925(2000),torecordingsfrom911emergencycalls,
Clarkv.State,
188Md.App.110,981A.2d666(2009),andtotextmessagesreceivedonthevictim'scellularphone,
Dickensv.State,
175Md.App.231,927A.2d32(2007),butneitherwenorourappellatebrethrenheretoforehasconsideredtheRule'sapplicationtoauthenticatepagesprintedfromasocialnetworkingsite.Rather,weturnforassistancetothediscussionin
Lorrainev.MarkelAmericanInsuranceCo.,
241F.R.D.534(D.Md.2007),whereinMaryland'sownMagistrateJudgePaulW.Grimm,arecognizedauthorityonevidentiaryissuesconcerningelectronicevidence,outlinedissuesregardingauthenticationofelectronicallystoredinformation,ine-mail,websites,digitalphotographs,computer-generateddocuments,
*423
andinternet
 
423

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