Supreme Court hears U student's Facebook case

  • Article by: Associated Press
  • Updated: February 8, 2012 - 8:26 PM

The University of Minnesota is again defending its right to discipline a student over Facebook comments that her instructors found threatening. The Minnesota Supreme Court heard arguments on Wednesday.

In 2009, Amanda Tatro, then a mortuary science student, wrote on Facebook that she wanted to use an embalming tool "to stab a certain someone in the throat."

Tatro's grade in her course was changed to failing and she was forced to take a psychological evaluation.

Last summer, the Minnesota Court of Appeals upheld the university's right to discipline Tatro. But Tatro maintains the school infringed on her free-speech rights.

Tatro's attorney, Jordan Kushner, argued on Wednesday that the school's actions were baseless. University general counsel Mark Rotenberg countered that Tatro failed to abide by standards for students.

The case dates to December 2009. Tatro was upset after breaking up with her boyfriend and told her Facebook friends that she was "looking forward to Monday's embalming therapy. ... Give me room, lots of aggression to be taken out with a trocar [a sharp surgical instrument used in embalming]."

Three instructors in the mortuary science program felt threatened after being made aware of Tatro's Facebook posts, prompting a police investigation.

According to the police report, Tatro followed her first posting with one that read: "I still want to stab a certain someone in the throat with a trocar."

When Tatro got to class the following Monday, she was patted down and questioned by U police.

Tatro told police that the posts were "just me venting. ... I got dumped, which is never a nice thing. I was bitter and really angry about it. For whatever reason, this professor took it personally."

No charges were filed.

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