Tech News

The Julie Group wants to prevent another Amero case

By Steve Ragan Jun 13, 2007, 19:20 GMT

At the beginning of the year, lots of people online, and offline learned about the case of Julie Amero.  The forty-year-old teacher was charged with child endangerment, stemming from Malware on a computer. Julie Amero faced forty years in prison because of the Malware, and her lack of knowledge of exactly what happened. This is where the Julie Group comes in to play. The group is comprised of several security experts who want to prevent the travesty that was the Amero case from ever happening again.

In the Amero case, the computer was displaying pornographic images and several children in the classroom saw the images, leading Connecticut authorities to bring the charges against the substitute teacher. A jury found her guilty and just before she was to be sentenced a Connecticut judge threw out the charges and granted a motion for a new trial. Later, the District Attorney in the trial said that new charges or another case would likely not be filed, leaving Julie Amero cleared of charges.

The Julie Group exists “To bring attention to those situations where injustice is being done through the misuse or misunderstanding of computers and computer forensics; and second, to prevent future injustice wherever we are able,” according to the group’s mission statement. The members of the group include several security experts that were involved with the Amero trial, including Sunbelt Software CEO Alex Eckelberry who helped Amero's defense team after her conviction.

The Julie Group wants to help others that are in similar positions as Amero was, and points out on their blog that, “There are hundreds, if not thousands, of others who are in the same boat as Julie Amero.” The group launched the blog over the weekend, and one of the first cases they are highlighting is Matthew Bandy. “Witness Mathew Bandy, the 16-year old, who almost went to prison for a false computer forensics charge,” they write linking to another blog containing information on Matthew’s case. (http://www.justice4matt.com)

One member of the group shared some information that got the others thinking. It was this brief story that caused the others to rally and take action, by sharing information and giving public attention to ridiculous charges. “This is deeply personal to me. Years ago, a family member was charged with a very serious crime under the RICO act, for which I know without question that he was completely innocent. Tens of thousands of dollars later and a horrible experience, we finally got him out of prison. But do you know what RICO does? Your life, property, everything -- gone – poof,” the member wrote.

“New technologies require education. DNA analysis and evidence has been misused to convict innocent people, bringing the Innocence Project into being for the purpose of education and reforming the system to fairly use a powerful forensic tool. Computers and computer networks are also powerful tools, but much education and reforms are needed to be sure that they are not used against innocent people,” the blog said. Adding that judges and lawyers are not computer experts and that training is needed to prevent cases like Amero and Bandy’s.

The Julie Group website is located online at http://thejuliegroup.blogspot.com, from there you can link to other online resources and read more information about the Matthew Bandy trial.



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