Constitutionally Civil Rights, Litigation of Business | Business of Litigation, On Lines & Inner Nets, Publicly Recorded

Alabama’s Priores Sustineo of a Blogger

Blogger and Contemptner Roger Shuler“I was the only jailed journalist in the Western Hemisphere for 2013”

After spending five months locked up for contempt of court, an Alabama blogger was released from the Shelby County jail on March 26, 2014. Roger Shuler writes and publishes a blog on Alabama law and politics called “Legal Schnauzer.” He had been accused of defamation and was ordered to stop writing about a prominent Alabama attorney, Robert R. Riley, the son of a former Alabama Governor. Mr. Riley was rumored to be planning a run for Congress at the time.

  • SHUT UP, SHULER!

Mr. Shuler asserted he was never personally served with the Court’s “gag order” and had continued writing about the potential future congressman. Mr. Shuler’s posts alleged Mr. Riley was having an extra-martial affair and impregnated a local lobbyist named Liberty Duke (can’t make this up). Mr. Riley filed a Petition with the Court and requested Mr. Shuler and his wife be locked up for violating the Court’s Orders by continuing to post defamatory statements.

  • LOCKED UP

Shortly after Mr. Shuler was jailed in late October 2013, the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press (RCFP), a non-profit legal assistance organization, sent a letter to the presiding Judge. The RCFP’s letter requested The Honorable Claude D. Neilson to reconsider his decision that censored and confined the blogger. The RCFP argued Mr. Shuler’s jailing for contempt of court was an unconstitutional prior restraint on speech in violation of the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment.

  • SEALED SHUT

Prior Restraint is when the government makes you shut your mouth before you can even open it–more descriptively called “Pre-Publication Censorship.” The RCFP’s letter succinctly laid out the law for one of the most egregious types of censorship and First Amendment violation:

The Supreme Court has never upheld a prior restraint, or a government prohibition on speech. In Nebraska Press Association v. Stuart, it found these bans on speech presumptively unconstitutional and called them “the most serious and the least tolerable infringement on First Amendment rights.” 427 U.S. 539, 558-59 (1976). See also Near v. State of Minnesota ex rel. Olson, 283 U.S. 697, 713 (1931) (calling prior restraint “the essence of censorship.”) The Supreme Court has speculated that prior restraints may only be allowed to prevent disclosure of information that would provide troop locations in wartime or “set in motion a nuclear holocaust.” Id. at 716.

  • MORE TO COME

    First Amendment Freedom Fighters

    First Amendment Freedom Fighters

The blogger’s wife had to take down the blog posts to spring Mr. Shuler out of jail. Mr. Shuler writes well, but I’ll tell you, his posts about the alleged illicit affair were not as torrid, dangerous or inflammatory as an actual nuclear holocaust.

Shuler plans to sue.

More Sources

And because I couldn’t resist, photos at the following respective links are of: Mr. Robert R. Riley and Ms. Liberty Duke
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Appealing Appeals Applied, On Lines & Inner Nets, Publicly Recorded

A Daughter’s $80,000 Facebook Post

From the “Think Before You Post” File

Secrets Suck

A daughter violated the confidentiality clause in her father’s Settlement Agreement with a braggadocio posting on Facebook. Inevitably, the young lady’s post eventually drew the attention of the defense counsel in the employment discrimination case.

 “Mama and Papa … won the case against Gulliver,” she wrote referencing the  the employer. “Gulliver is now officially paying for my vacation to Europe this summer. SUCK IT.”

Broken Promise

The trial court did not find the post a breach of the agreement. However, on appeal to Florida’s Third Circuit Court of Appeal, the appellate court reversed the trial court stating, “[B]efore the ink was dry on the agreement, and notwithstanding the clear language … mandating confidentiality, [he] violated the agreement by doing exactly what he had promised not to do.”  Apparently, the daughter had 1200 friends on the site so there was no claiming it was a private message or not intended for public consumption.

Unambiguously Expen$ive

After finding the terms of the agreement clear and unambiguous, the Court held:

In this case, the plain, unambiguous meaning of … the agreement between [the father] and the school is that neither [he] nor his wife would “either directly or indirectly” disclose to anyone (other than their lawyers or other professionals) “any information” regarding the existence or the terms of the parties’ agreement.

They disclosed it to their daughter and she disclosed to at least 1200 other people on-line with the Facebook post. This is a real expensive way to learn the internet is a public forum. It also is an expensive way to find out how easily a confidentiality agreement is breached.

Read the appellate decision here and more info from the news story is below.

MKT

Daughter’s Facebook boast costs former Gulliver Prep headmaster $80,000 discrimination settlement – Schools – MiamiHerald.com.

 

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