Maryland Judge Orders Damages Against N.Y. Spammer

A Maryland judge has allowed the use of her state’s anti-spam laws against a New York spammer.

Those annoying e-mails offering home financing deals or other offers can violate Maryland law, even if they’re sent from out of state, a state appeals court has ruled. Court of Special Appeals Judge Sally D. Adkins sided with a law student who argued that he could sue a New York e-mail marketer who sent him advertising messages. The decision, issued Thursday, overturns a lower court ruling that Maryland’s 2002 Commercial Electronic Mail Act was unconstitutional because it sought to regulate commerce outside state borders.

Judge Adkins, in a 60-page decision, blasted the spammer’s claims that he should not be punished for violating Maryland law because he had no way of knowing whether his e-mails would be opened in Maryland. “This allegation has little more validity than one who contends he is not guilty of homicide when he shoots a rifle into a crowd of people without picking a specific target, and someone dies,” the judge wrote.

Actually, that’s a pretty weak argument. Someone who sends an e-mail from one state should not be subject to penalties imposed by other states. Indeed, it is not clear to me why a Maryland court would have jurisdiction in a case against an unwilling out-of-state defendant.

FILED UNDER: General, Law and the Courts, Science & Technology, ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. G A PHILLIPS says:

    it is a weak argument but I think all spammers should be sent GITMO, so I had better pass on this one.