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Logue v. Book

Florida Court of Appeals, Fourth District

August 14, 2019


         Not final until disposition of timely filed motion for rehearing.

          Appeal from the Circuit Court for the Seventeenth Judicial Circuit, Broward County; Michael G. Kaplan, Judge; L.T. Case No. DVCE17-5746.

          Gary S. Edinger of Benjamin, Aaronson, Edinger & Patanzo, P.A., Gainesville and James S. Benjamin of Benjamin, Aaronson, Edinger & Patanzo, P.A., Fort Lauderdale, for appellant.

          J. David Bogenschutz and Jaclyn E. Broudy of J. David Bogenschutz & Associates, P.A., Fort Lauderdale, for appellee.

          PER CURIAM.

         The appellant appeals a final injunction for protection against stalking. He argues, among other things, that the trial court erred in entering the injunction because the appellee failed to prove the statutory requirements for an injunction and because the injunction is a prior restraint on his free speech. We agree in part and reverse.

         The appellee is a public advocate for child abuse victims and promotes strict policies related to sex offenders. The appellant is an outspoken opponent of sex offender laws.[1] The appellee filed for an injunction alleging the appellant was harassing and cyberstalking her. The trial court held a hearing and took testimony from the parties and witnesses, after which the court entered the injunction. The injunction is now appealed.

         "A trial court has broad discretion to grant an injunction, and we review an order imposing a permanent injunction for a clear abuse of that discretion." Pickett v. Copeland, 236 So.3d 1142, 1143-44 (Fla. 1st DCA 2018).

         In support of her request for an injunction, the appellee alleged three instances of offending conduct: (1) the appellant's protest at the end of a children's march in Tallahassee; (2) his appearance and conduct at a New York film festival; and (3) his social media postings on his website, blog, and other social media platforms.

         At the injunction hearing, the appellee testified about these three instances. She expressed her fear of the appellant and testified to her contact with law enforcement to ensure her safety and that of her young children.

         The First Instance - The Tallahassee Protest

         Testimony revealed the appellant protested, and encouraged others to join his protest, against the children's march in Tallahassee. He stood at the side of the road, across the street from the State Capitol, holding a three-by-three-foot handwritten sign protesting the appellee's advocacy of sex offender registration laws. His protest included a diorama of a homeless camp and a commode chair bearing the title, "King Ron's Throne."[2] Law enforcement had been notified of the protest in advance, and there were no untoward incidents reported regarding appellant's conduct.

         The Second Instance - The Film Festival

         The appellee was scheduled to attend a film festival in New York for the screening of a documentary about sex offenders in which both she and the appellant appeared. She knew the appellant would attend the film festival and arranged for security to be in place. The appellant sat three rows behind her during the documentary.

         When the documentary concluded, the appellee walked to the front of the theater to take questions. When the appellant took the microphone, he asked the appellee: "how can you sit there and talk about how people on the registry don't deserve a second chance when your father . . . is a convicted criminal and he got a second chance?" A law enforcement officer in attendance testified that the appellant asked the question in a loud, aggressive manner and pointed his finger at the appellee as he asked it. However, other witnesses also said the appellant never left his seat in the theatre before he asked this question, nor did he attempt to approach the appellee at any time.

         The appellee responded. She was then immediately escorted away from the stage by security, and the microphone was taken from the appellant.

         The Third Instance - The Website and Social Media

         Testimony and evidence established the appellant maintained a website and other profiles on social media platforms professing his opposition to sex offender legislation. The appellant posted the appellee's home address and pictures of her home on his website. On his other social media platforms, the appellant also posted a video of a song containing an obscene title and lyrics, as well as a cartoon depicting a tombstone with an obscene reference to the appellee.[3] He "tweeted" that the song perfectly depicted the appellee. However, the appellant neither directly communicated with the appellee about these posts, nor sent them to her or any of her associates by email, text, or otherwise.

         Other ...

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