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United States v. Trotter

United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit

February 16, 2007, Submitted ; February 23, 2007, Filed

No. 05-4202


 [*919]  PER CURIAM.

John Larkin Trotter was charged with intentionally causing damage to a protected computer without authorization, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1030(a)(5)(A)(i). Trotter pleaded guilty, reserving the right to challenge the constitutionality of § 1030(a)(5)(A)(i) as applied. The district court 1 sentenced Trotter to eighteen months' imprisonment and ordered Trotter to pay approximately $ 19,000 in restitution. On appeal, Trotter argues § 1030(a)(5)(A)(i) is unconstitutional as applied to his conduct: an attack on a not-for-profit organization's computer network that was connected to the Internet and used to communicate with out-of-state computers. We affirm.

 [**2]  I. Background

On September 12, 2003, Trotter was fired from his job at the Midland Division of the Salvation Army in St. Louis, Missouri. Trotter had been employed as an information technology supervisor. Starting in October 2003, the Midland Division of the Salvation Army began experiencing computer network difficulties. First, numerous files were deleted from the network. Next, a computer-operated phone system was shut down. On November 8, 2003, a folder containing several files was completely erased. On November 22, 2003, someone using the account of Arnice Trotter, the defendant's mother and an employee of the Salvation Army, logged onto the Salvation Army's computer network and inserted several files with obscenities directed towards the Salvation Army. Files continued to be deleted.  [*920]  Some time later, a number of Salvation Army employees received pop-up messages on their computers reading "Trotter was here." The Midland Division of the Salvation Army spent over $ 19,000 to repair the damage inflicted by these attacks.

A law enforcement investigation discovered the intrusions into the Salvation Army's network originated from a DSL account in St. Louis, Missouri, registered [**3]  to Malynda Ramsey, Trotter's girlfriend and co-habitant. The email address attached to the account included Trotter's first name, last initial, and birth year. The instant federal charge followed.

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478 F.3d 918 *; 2007 U.S. App. LEXIS 3913 **

United States of America, Appellee, v. John Larkin Trotter, Appellant.

Prior History:  [**1]  Appeal from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri.


interstate commerce, computer network, network, communicate, interstate, channels

Constitutional Law, Case or Controversy, Constitutional Questions, General Overview, Criminal Law & Procedure, Jurisdiction & Venue, Jurisdiction, Constitutionality of Legislation, Standards of Review, De Novo Review, Computer & Internet Law, Criminal Offenses, Computer Fraud & Abuse Act, Commerce Clause, Interstate Commerce