Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Nikki catsouras want to know more about nikki catsouras

Nicole "Nikki" Catsouras (March 4, 1988 – October 31, 2006) was an American woman who died at the age of 18 as a result of a car crash after losing control of her father's Porsche 911 Carrera at high speed and colliding with a toll booth in Orange County, California. An autopsy revealed cocaine had recently been ingested by Nicole. The death was notable for a controversy surrounding the leakage of photographs of Catsouras' badly damaged body on to the Internet, which caused her family to take legal action due to distress about the incident.

As an 8-year-old, Ms. Catsouras was diagnosed with a brain tumor and doctors did not think she would survive. The tumor was benign, but Ms. Catsouras underwent intensive radiation treatment. As a result, doctors told her parents the effects of that treatment on her young brain might show up at some point in the future by causing changes in her judgment or impulse control. Family members told Newsweek magazine they believed those changes may have been why she, the summer before the accident, tried cocaine and ended up in the hospital in a cocaine-induced psychosis. Her family also confirmed she used cocaine again the night before the accident. Ms. Catsouras' parents discussed checking her into a hospital, but decided against it: she was scheduled to visit a psychiatrist the day following the accident, a specialist on brain disorders.

Events leading up to her death

There are allegations that Ms. Catsouras lost driving privileges to her own car (not the Porsche) the night before the accident, with her father taking her keys from her. On the day of the accident, Ms. Catsouras along with her parents ate lunch together. After lunch, Mr. Catsouras left for work while her mother remained at home. About ten minutes later, her mother heard a door slam along with footsteps out the back door. As she walked toward the garage, she was able to see Ms. Catsouras backing out of the driveway in her father's Porsche 911 Carrera — a car she was not allowed to drive. The mother called the father, who began driving around trying to find his daughter. While in the car, he called 911 for help, apparently minutes before the accident, and was put on hold. When taken off hold, the dispatcher informed him of the accident.

Leakage of accident scene photographs

According to Newsweek, the Catsouras "accident was so gruesome the coroner wouldn't allow her parents to identify their daughter's body. However, photographs of the scene of Catsouras' death were taken by California Highway Patrol (CHP) officers as part of standard fatal vehicle accident procedures. These photos were then forwarded to others within the Department, and then spread across the Internet.

Two CHP employees, Aaron Reich and Thomas O'Donnell, admitted to releasing the photos in violation of CHP policy. O'Donnell later stated in interviews that he only sent the photos to his own e-mail account for viewing at a later time, while Reich stated that he had forwarded the pictures to four other people.[4] Catsouras' parents soon discovered the photographs posted online. The pictures had gained much attention, including in the form of a fake MySpace tribute website that actually contained links to the photographs. Griefers also anonymously e-mailed copies of the photos to the Catsouras family with misleading subject headers, in one case captioning the photo sent to the father with the words "Woohoo Daddy! Hey daddy, I'm still alive." This led to the Catsouras family withdrawing from Internet use and even homeschooling Ms. Catsouras's youngest sister due to the possibility that she might have been taunted with the photographs.

Legal action by the family

A judge in California ruled that it would be appropriate to move forward with the family's legal case against the California Highway Patrol for leaking the photographs.[4] The family hired ReputationDefender to handle their lawsuit. This led to the California Highway Patrol issuing a formal apology and taking action to prevent similar occurrences in the future, after discovering that departmental policy had been violated by the two officers responsible for the leakage of the photographs.O'Donnell was suspended for 25 days without pay, and Reich quit soon after, "for unrelated reasons," according to his lawyer. As of March 21, 2008, the final ruling in the legal case was issued. Judge Steven L. Perk dismissed the case against the Department of the California Highway Patrol after both Reich and O'Donnell were removed as defendants. Judge Perk ruled that the two were not under any responsibility for protecting the privacy of the Catsouras family, effectively ending the basis for the case. The family's legal team is appealing the ruling.

Wider privacy context

The controversy illustrates the lack of control over the legal privacy that exists in these types of situations. The lack of legal precedent makes it difficult for the legal system to be used to punish those who circulate the images. The superior court judge who dismissed the Catsouras' case ruled in March 2008 that while the dispatchers' conduct was "utterly reprehensible", there was no law that allowed it to be punishable.