First Amendment Wins Again!

The Volokh Conspiracy

Court order banning speech about a person (and banning gun possession by speaker) reversed

 May 2, 2016

I’ve blogged often about how criminal harassment bans, “cyberstalking” bans and restraining order laws have been morphing: They began by restricting unwanted speech to a person, but they’ve often been used to restrict speech about a person.

Many recent appellate court decisions, fortunately, have been rejecting this process. Here’s the latest example from the Florida Court of Appeal (Scott v. Blum) reversing a “stop talking about plaintiff” order. (Incidentally, like many such orders, this came with a ban on gun possession by the defendant.)

First, the facts (some paragraph breaks added throughout):

Mr. Blum is a process server and a member of the National Association of Professional Process Servers (NAPPS). [Randy] Scott is a former process server and former member of NAPPS…. Mr. Blum testified that Mr. Scott sent emails about Mr. Blum and Mr. Blum’s family, partners, and former employees to 2200 NAPPS members.

The emails consisted of links to articles, blog posts, or videos. In some instances, the articles or blog posts were written by Mr. Scott. The tenor of the emails, articles, blog posts, and videos was derogatory, and the allegations within them were potentially damaging to Mr. Blum’s business and reputation. Copies of the emails supported Mr. Blum’s testimony.

Mr. Blum testified that none of the emails were sent directly to him but that he knows about them because they were forwarded by the recipients to him or he received phone calls about them. The emails, articles, blog posts, and videos did not contain threats against Mr. Blum. However, Mr. Blum claimed that the content of the emails, articles, blog posts, and videos caused him emotional distress; he had trouble sleeping and eating, the emails were constantly on his mind, and he constantly had to defend himself to people.

Mr. Scott testified that his emails discussed many people within NAPPS or connected to NAPPS and were not directed at Mr. Blum.

Continue Reading: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/volokh-conspiracy/wp/2016/05/02/court-order-banning-speech-about-a-person-and-banning-gun-possession-by-speaker-reversed/?utm_term=.be93d44ebee8

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One thought on “First Amendment Wins Again!

  1. I think it is good that you bring up these issues. It gives voice to what many have been struggling with for millenniums. I find the material presented to be well-thought out and making use of primary resources. Good Read.

    Like

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