The Mickes Goldman O’Toole law firm is proud to announce the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals recent decision in the D.J.M., et al v. Hannibal Public School District #60, et al. The case concerned a student’s claim that his long term discipline for making death threats against specific students was protected by the First Amendment’s Freedom of Speech, as the death threats were conveyed via Instant Messenger, from a personal computer, after school hours.
The District argued its discipline decision was justified because the statements were “True Threats” and these statements caused a substantial disruption in the District’s efficient operation of the high school. After being awarded summary judgment by the District Court, Plaintiff appealed and on August 1, 2011, the Eighth Circuit affirmed the decision in the District’s favor.
This decision represents a significant victory for Missouri public school districts, as it confirms their ability to proactively respond to threatening electronic communications without the threat of liability for First Amendment violations. The Firm congratulates Teri Goldman, Joe Wientge, Mary Sample, Shannon Maechling, and Christine Clement on their hard work on this important matter.