Choose 60 days in jail or 30 days of apologizing on Facebook?
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…
Hanni Fakhoury, a staff lawyer with the San Francisco-based Electronic Frontier Foundation, said the rulings are unique and “raise quite a few” free-speech issues…”There haven’t been a lot of cases that have dealt with this particular issue,” he said.
Mark and Elizabeth Byron had a son in July 2010, but their marriage soon became troubled. She accused him of verbally abusing her, threatening her with his fist and threatening to “end” her life. While Mark Byron, who has done freelance photography for The Enquirer, was exonerated of criminal allegations, a civil protective order was issued instructing him to stay away from his wife…
“… 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…
“I didn’t think I had an option,” said Mark Byron, who has been posting the apology on Facebook for a week.
Har. The free speech question is an important one. Having a husband who’s an ego-smitten fool – and possibly dangerous – is another.
You can RTFA for the content of his new posting.