I see that Karoli Kuns has a long piece up at Crooks and Liars. Clearly, it was not subjected to fact checking. Consider this typical paragraph which I will fisk:
To a large extent, it succeeded. Hoge filed numerous requests for peace orders which were routinely rejected by the Court. [I filed two.] After they were denied, Hoge appealed. [Only the first one.] Finally, Hoge scored on appeal and found a sympathetic ear in Judge Thomas Stansfield of Carroll County, who had no experience with online social networks or blogs. Judge Stansfield granted Hoge his peace order under Maryland’s domestic violence laws. [No. The peace order was granted under a Courts & Judicial Procedures statute. Protective orders, which are not the same thing, are granted under a Family Law article.] Schmalfeldt was ordered not to contact Hoge at work [No. The order does not mention my workplace because I was retired at the time it was issued.] or contact him by phone. (None of these things had ever happened or could happen because Schmalfeldt does not have the physical ability or desire to visit Hoge anywhere at any time.) He was also barred from contacting Hoge via email. [He is prohibited from contacting (by any means), attempting to contact, or harassing me.]
I’ve been told that accuracy in reporting has never been Karoli’s strong suit. After reading stuff like this, I’m inclined to believe that characterization.
She is no more accurate in her description of the state of the law in Maryland.
But Maryland also needs to evaluate how they’ve structured their peace order process. A simple refinement to the law which limited peace order requests to those where there was an established domestic relationship or closer physical proximity would have eliminated this problem and ended a lot of stress and aggravation for Schmalfeldt. As it stands now, any Maryland citizen can invent the idea that a criminal act has been committed against them online, take that idea to the courthouse and turn it into a peace order. This entraps people in a litigation net who do not belong there while depriving them of the same protections other citizens receive.
In fact, Maryland has two different procedures for dealing with conflicts outside of the criminal justice system. The first, Protective Orders, deals conflicts between family members or domestic partners. This is what Brett Kimberlin sought to use against his wife, unsuccessfully in the end.
The second, Peace Orders, deals with conflict between non-related parties. To obtain a peace order, one must prove (to the “clear and convincing” standard) to a judge during an adversarial hearing that one is the victim of one or more of a specified list of crimes. In my case against Schmalfeldt that was harassment. Harassment via the Internet is harassment. There is not an exception because blogs or Twitter were used.
I am not amused by this either.
UPDATE—Karoli has taken down comments to her post that relate to the actual facts of the situation with Bill Schmalfeldt, and she has announce that she will not permit any more such comments. She claims that her post is really about how screwed up Maryland’s laws are. If they were as she describes them, I would probably agree. However, she does not correctly describe Maryland’s Peace Order stature or how it works.
Not only does she have her facts wrong, she has her facts about the law wrong.