Teen's Threatening Essay Isn't Protected Speech

Court Watch Posted on

A student's essay fantasizing about a Columbine-style high school shooting was a true threat and not free speech protected by the First Amendment, the 8th Circuit ruled.

When creative writing teacher Ann Mershon read David Riehm's essay called "Bowling for Cuntchenson," she felt "threatened, scared and hurt," Judge Gruender wrote, because the essay seemed to foretell her own murder.

Riehm had previously written an essay criticizing an "old fashioned, narrow minded, uncreative, paranoid ... jealous" English teacher named "Mrs. Cuntchenson."

Riehm was suspended and referred to the Cook County Department of Health and Human Services. Based on the social worker's recommendation, Riehm was detained and placed in protective custody.

Two days later, Riehm was released from custody because he was considered
not mentally ill or dangerous. Riehm and his mother sued the county.

Gruender agreed with the trial court that the Riehms presented no evidence that county officials acted improperly.

"The details of the teacher's murder and the narrator's suicide lead to the inescapable conclusion that it was a serious threat directed at Mershon," the judge wrote.

Legal News Media

Legal News Organization press is the top headline legal news provider for lawyers and legalprofessionals. Read law articles and breaking news from law firm's across the United States to get the latest updates. The content contained on the web site has been prepared by Legal News Media as a service to the internet
community and is not intended to constitute legal advice or a substitute for consultation with a licensed legal professional in a particular case or circumstance.




American Bar Association – Start and Run a Law Firm

NewYorkStateBar.com – Starting a Law Firm

Lawyer Web Direct

CPA Website Designs