Court Orders Man To Apologize To Estranged Wife On Facebook
Magistrate Says Apologizing Can Avoid 60-Day Sentence
February 22, 2012
CINCINNATI — A Cincinnati man has been ordered to apologize to his estranged wife on Facebook after a post he wrote last year.
Court records indicate that Mark Byron was found guilty of civil domestic violence against Elizabeth Byron in June 2011, and Elizabeth Byron was granted a temporary protection order.
The records indicate that Mark Byron posted a comment to his Facebook wall in late November that stated, “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 and they’ll take him away!”
Mark Byron said it was frustration over his upcoming divorce and child visitation that led to his posting on the social media site.
“I post on Facebook to vent things. I liken it to having a drink in a bar with a friend and telling them how I feel. On Facebook, you do it on a larger scale, and people interested can say something about it, but if they are not interested, they don’t,” Mark Byron said Wednesday.
Even though Mark Byron said his wife is blocked from his Facebook page, she somehow saw a picture he posted on his page and read comments from friends.
Elizabeth Byron filed a motion after the post was made, stating that the post violated the protection order, which prohibited Mark Byron “from causing plaintiff or the child of the parties to suffer physical and/or mental abuse, harassment, annoyance or bodily injury.”
Mark Byron, a photographer, said his wife painted an unfair picture of him to a domestic relations court.
On Jan. 25, magistrate Paul Meyers ruled that Mark Byron violated the protection order and sentenced him to 60 days in jail and a $500 fine.
But Meyers said Mark Byron could avoid the sentence by paying back child support and posting an apology, written into the order by Meyers, to his Facebook page for 30 days beginning Feb. 13.
Meyers ruled that Byron could not shut down his page during those 30 days and had to grant friend status to his wife or someone of her choosing to monitor the page.
“On one hand, the court wants to stop me from saying something on Facebook, and then it’s telling me I have to (post) the prewritten apology,” Mark Byron said.
Lawyer Jill Meyer, of Frost Brown Todd Attorneys, said the case may make national headlines because social media are still so new.
“What the court said about the notion of preventing somebody from speaking or compelling somebody to speak raises some constitutional First Amendment issues,” Meyer said.
Mark Byron said he just wants freedom of speech and to see his son more often.
“We have right to free speech, but we can’t just say anything. There are certain limitations,” Meyer said.
The case returns to court on March 19.Source: http://www.wlwt.com/news/30517471/detail.html#ixzz1nETXPIel