Friday, February 24, 2012

Choice of jail or a Facebook apology

USA Today reports
CINCINNATI – Photographer Mark Byron was so bothered by his pending divorce and child visitation issues that he blasted his soon-to-be ex-wife on his personal Facebook page.

That touched off a battle that resulted in a Hamilton County judge ordering Byron jailed for his Facebook rant — or, to avoid the jail sentence, to post on his page an apology to his wife and all of his Facebook friends, something free-speech experts found troubling.

"The idea that a court can say, 'I order you not to post something or to post something' seems to me to be a First Amendment issue," said free-speech expert Jack Greiner, who also is The Cincinnati Enquirer's lawyer. ...

Mark Byron also argued that the same court prevented him from seeing his son. In a Nov. 23, 2011, Facebook posting, he blasted the situation and the judicial system he believed wronged him.

"… if you are an evil, vindictive woman who wants to ruin your husband's life and take your son's father away from him completely — all you need to do is say that you're scared of your husband or domestic partner… , " he wrote on Facebook.

Elizabeth Byron learned of the post — even though her husband had blocked her from viewing his page — and thought it violated a previous protective order that prevented Mark Byron from doing anything to cause his wife "to suffer physical and/or mental abuse, harassment, annoyance, or bodily injury." ...

Domestic Relations Magistrate Paul Meyers found Mark Byron in contempt and ordered him jailed for 60 days beginning March 19 — or to post for 30 days on his Facebook page an apology to his wife, written by Meyers, if he wanted to avoid jail. He also had to pay her $1,156 in back child support and her lawyers' fees.
Byron was found in contempt of court for that? His wife is an evil, vindictive woman who wants to ruin his life and take his son's father away from him. That is obvious from the above story about the court action she has taken against him.

The US Supreme Court just just heard arguments about the limits of free speech:
Stolen Valor Act makes it a crime to falsely claim to have been awarded a military medal. Xavier Alvarez did that, but the claim harms no one, says his lawyer in his brief to the Supreme Court.
So the First Amendment maybe protects lying about military medals, but not telling on a Facebook page what a vindictive wife can do in family court?


Anonymous said...

This story is an outrage! I am a mom, and I would never treat my daughter's father in such a manner, and we are divorced. The court system in this country has become a joke, and it is now being used as a tool to dicriminate, bully, and take away the rights of fathers who are just as much an important part of a child's life as a mother. Children are made by two people, and should be raised as such when at all possible. How did our society get so messed up not to remember that it takes a village to raise a child? Instead of allowing these fathers who actually wish to be fathers to be the best fathers they can be, we maim and destroy any chances of such things happening. When did money become an ulterior motive for divorce? Why has it become a game of who can hurt who more? Freedom of speech has been hurt here. Not only should the court systems in this country and these individual states be ashamed...but every single American needs to wake up and feel shame for every right we have ever allowed to be taken from someone. The court system should be there to determine outcomes of cases using unbiased means. So, how is it that men are taking the brunt of the impact from the majority of these divorce decisions. The joke in the law community where I live is that a "mom" has to be a junkie protitute for the system to remotely consider that she may be unfit. Perhaps we should update our ideals about women while we are updating our databases. Women can be just as bad as men. Perhaps our justice is not so much blind as it is just ignorant.

gdma said...

This court in Hamilton County has gone from one extreme to the other. In the 70s, my ex and I were going through a divorce in this same courthouse, and even though he actually DID threaten me to my face, tried to run me off the road, and threatened my co-workers-the police and the court did NOTHING. My ex violated the protection order constantly and when I brought it before the magistrate, I was told 'Just stay away from each other'. Wow, how times have changed...they've now gone from one extreme to the other. Is this still the United States?

Dan Brewington said...

Another Cincinnati Father, Dan Brewington, lost his parenting time with his girls because he was blogging about the family court system, and landed in an Indiana Prison for 5 years. Brewington took care of his girls (who were 3 & 1 when the divorce began) for 2 ½ years until Dearborn County, IN, Judge James D. Humphrey took away his visitation time with his girls. Brewington had no complaints from anywhere about his parenting and no criminal or violent history. Brewington continued to blog about the Custody Evaluator, Edward J. Connor, Judge Humphrey, and the Prosecutor, F. Aaron Negangard. No one took any civil action and after investigating Brewington for 2 ½ years after his divorce decree, the Prosecutor convened a grand jury and Brewington was indicted and convicted of 3 D Felonies, and 2 A Misdemeanors. Charges are currently being appealed. See