TALLAHASSEE — Citing First Amendment rights, an appeals court Wednesday overturned an injunction that state Sen. Lauren Book obtained because of alleged cyberstalking and harassment by an activist who opposes laws dealing with sex-offender registries.
The full 4th District Court of Appeal, in an 8-3 ruling, said a Broward County circuit judge improperly granted an injunction that, in part, was designed to prevent Derek Warren Logue from having contact with Book and from publishing any statement threatening her.
Book, who was sexually abused as a child by a nanny and is a prominent advocate for victims’ rights, pointed to actions by Logue at events in Tallahassee and New York and online posts in seeking the injunction. But the appeals-court majority, while describing Logue’s posts as “vulgar and insulting,” said Logue did not violate a state stalking law and that his actions were protected by the First Amendment.
“As tempting as it might be to force some civility into the matter by stanching respondent’s (Logue’s) speech against petitioner (Book) with a court order, to do so would ignore the protections of the First Amendment and the wording of the stalking statute,” said the 19-page majority opinion, written by Judge Mark Klingensmith. “There was no evidence presented to the trial court that respondent incited action by urging people to threaten harm to petitioner or her family. Claims of threatening speech or harassing action are actionable if the speaker threatens, harasses or intimidates, and intended targets would reasonably perceive that intent. Merely posting public information, or potentially embarrassing and annoying content, without more, is not conduct within the stalking statute and does not entitle petitioner to an injunction.”