Court Revisits 'Son of Sam' Law

Court Expected to Rule Within Months

California’s statute is much more narrowly tailored: It only applies to convicted felons, not including those found guilty by reason of insanity, and the stories of the felonies for which they were convicted. In May of 1999, the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals rejected Keenan’s claim and upheld the state’s “Son of Sam” law. The state Supreme Court is expected to rule on the appeal in several months. Meanwhile, activists elsewhere are working to expand and strengthen “notoriety for profit” laws. The governor of South Carolina recently signed into law a measure that outlaws profiting from crime in any fashion. In New York, legislators are considering broadening the state’s law that would allow victims to recover money and property that a convicted criminal receives from any source and to apply to misdemeanor convictions and felonies. But some First Amendment experts argue that many such “second-generation” Son of Sam laws will not withstand the scrutiny of the high court, if they ever make it that far. “It’s a strong First Amendment court,” Conrad said. “They will look at these laws skeptically.”

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