Sheila posted the following rant on her Facebook page:
“Boy meets girl. Boy and girl get married. Boy and girl have two kids. Boy forces girl to quit her job and stay home to raise the kids. Boy takes complete control of the family finances and insists that girl limit her contact with her parents and friends. When boy drinks too much, he hits girl. Girl lies about the scratches on her eye and the bruises on her arm. Boy starts cheating on girl while she was pregnant with their first child. Girl moves out and in with her parents. Boy says he is sorry and promises it will never happen again. Girl forgives boy and returns home. Girl discovers boy lied and never stopped seeing girlfriend. After birth of their second child, boy abandons girl and kids and moves in with girlfriend. Boy does not pay child support or spend any time with his kids. Girl moves in with her parents and works two jobs to take care of kids. Boy tells girl to stop harassing him about child support and visiting with the children. Boy threatens to harm girl if she ever shows up at his new home or does anything to interfere with his new relationship. Boy changes his cell phone number and does not give girl the new number. She has no way of contacting him. Boy threatens to take custody of kids if girl decides to date someone else. Boy tells kids that it is girl’s fault the family fell apart.
Several of Dennis’ friends and relatives told him he needed to read Sheila’s post. After reading it, he hit the roof. Although Sheila didn’t use any names, Dennis considered her rant to be a personal attack on his character. He threatened Sheila with bodily harm and promised her she would pay for putting his business in the streets. Dennis was a deputy sheriff. He used his contacts inside the magistrate office to file charges against Sheila for cyber-stalking. He also hired an attorney and filed a civil action against Sheila for libel. The libel charges are pending. However, the sheriff showed up on Sheila’s job and arrested her on the cyber-stalking charge. She was released a few hours later after posting a $500 bond.
Sheila hired an attorney and was found not guilty. The attorney convinced the jury that Sheila had a First Amendment right to express her opinions on her Facebook page, and since her post did not reveal Dennis’s name or include any threats, the action should not be considered cyber-stalking. Sheila lost both of her jobs as a result of having to attend court appearances. So she turned around and filed a lawsuit for malicious prosecution against Dennis. Sheila also has filed for custody and child support.
Jackie’s Note: The cases posted in Courthouse Chronicles are real-life court cases that involve real people. For the record, I do not include any of the cases I have actually worked. If I hired a lawyer to represent me I would not want him or her writing about me so that’s why I don’t write about any of my clients. My research for these posts consists of sitting in the back of courtrooms listening to the testimony and witnessing the antics of other lawyers, their clients and people who chose to represent themselves.
Photo Credit: Visual Hunt