22 June 2011

Appeals court again halts trial for man accused of snooping on wife's e-mail | Detroit Free Press | freep.com

For the second time in three days, an appellate court stopped Oakland County prosecutors from taking a man to trial on felony charges after he read his wife’s e-mail without her permission.

In a decision released late this afternoon, the state Court of Appeals adjourned Thursday’s trial date for Leon Walker, 33, of Rochester Hills. Should Walker eventually go to trial, it would likely be late summer.

Walker is charged with unlawful access to a computer after reading his then wife Clara’s e-mails in the summer of 2009. Walker was also accused of attempting to access a confidential police database, a charge related to the e-mail hacking case.

Walker was set to stand trial in Oakland County Circuit Court on both cases Thursday.

Monday, the Court of Appeals adjourned his trial on the e-mail case, ordering trial judge Martha Anderson to submit a brief about why she thought the case should continue. The appellate judges, in a unanimous opinion, said they had “serious questions as to whether this criminal statute was intended to be applied to domestic relation cases of the sort presented here.”

But the appellate court in that ruling did not address the database snooping charge. This morning, Oakland county assistant prosecutor Jeffrey Hall argued, in a hearing before Anderson, that Walker should go to trial on that matter Thursday. “I’m tired of delays,” Hall said. “I’m tired of reading papers about accusations.”

Judge Anderson agreed and ordered Walker to appear for trial Thursday. “The Court of Appeals does not run my docket,” she said.

But te appellate court, without comment, issued a stay late this afternoon, effectively adjourning Thursday’s trial until more motions can be heard.

Walker’s defense attorney praised the appellate court for stopping what he calls “a lot of cockamamie.”

“The sense of pride I feel as a lawyer always grows when justice is done, and justice was done today,” said Leon Weiss.

Walker, Clara’s third husband, suspected she was having an affair in the summer of 2009, and used her password to read her gmail account. He learned she was having an affair with her second husband, a man who had been arrested for beating her in front of a child she had with her first husband. Walker notified the first husband, who then placed in the e-mails in court filings. Clara and Leon Walker, who also share a child, have since divorced.

Walker was arrested in 2010. Oakland County prosecutor Jessica Cooper then charged Walker with attempting to access the county’s CLEMIS system, a secure computer network used by police agencies. Walker says he was asking county employees how to use the system so that he could craft a Freedom of Information letter to find out if any other spouses had been prosecuted over e-mail. Court records show that no other spouse in Oakland County has been prosecuted under the statute for snooping in e-mail.

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