As a certain deadline draws near, we present this vintage episode to emphasize the ability of the legal system to protect the innocent.
NARRATOR: Ladies and gentlemen, the story you are about to hear is true. The names have been changed to protect the innocent.
MUSIC: Up, then under …
NARRATOR: You’re a Detective Sergeant. You’re assigned to Internet Detail. A pair of bloggers have been charged with online harassment of a minor child. Your job … get the facts.
MUSIC: Up then under …
ANNOUNCER: Blognet … the documented drama of an actual case. For the next few minutes, in cooperation with the Twitter Town Sheriff’s Department, you will travel step by step on the side of the good guys through an actual case transcribed from official files. From beginning to end, from crime to punishment, Blognet is the story of the good guys in action.
MUSIC: Up and out.
SOUND: Footsteps in hallway.
FRIDAY: It was Tuesday, May 19th. It was a pleasant late spring day in Maryland. We were working the day watch out of Internet Detail. My partner’s Liz Smith. The Boss is Twitter Town Sheriff W. J. J. Hoge. My name’s Friday. It was 9:27 am when Liz and I entered Room 211 in the District Courthouse in Rockville. The Criminal Clerk’s Office.
SOUND: Door opens. Footsteps across room.
CLERK: Good morning.
SMITH: Good morning. We need to get copies of a couple of case files. Here’s the list.
CLERK: Let me check.
SOUND: Typing on keyboard.
CLERK: These are brand new. The computer says they’ve been sent up from the Commissioners Office, but they may not be in the file room yet.
FRIDAY: Is that good or bad?
CLERK: It could be good. They may be in the box I was about to go through. Let’s see.
SOUND: Pile of files dropped on counter. Paper being shuffled.
CLERK: Let’s see. Yep. He’s one, and … Here’s the other. There you go. There’s a box of paper clips on the counter on the other wall. Tag the pages you need with clips, and I’ll make copies.
FRIDAY: We want the whole files. Just copy everything.
CLERK: OK. There’s only four pages of charging documents in each one so far. Do you need them certified?
SMITH: No. We just need copies.
CLERK: Well, it’s 50 cents a page. Let me print you a bill, and you can go down the hall to cashier to pay while I make the copies.
SOUND: Typing on keyboard. Printer.
FRIDAY: We went down to the cashier and paid for the copies, back down the hall to pick them up, and then ransomed our car from the parking garage. I read through the charging documents while Liz drove us back to Westminster.
SOUND: Road noise car interior POV.
FRIDAY: 10:14 am. I had finished a first pass evaluation of the charging documents.
SMITH: Well. Is there a case there, Joe?
FRIDAY: I don’t think so. Even if all of it is true, the allegations don’t lay out the elements of electronic harassment of a minor.
SMITH: Is that a surprise? Timberland filed the charges, so they’re bound to be flaky.
FRIDAY: Actually, his wife filed them.
SMITH: I guess even the Montgomery County Commissioners have learned not to trust Timberland.
FRIDAY: Yeah. Sometimes perjurers lie.
SOUND: Road noise out.
MUSIC: Stinger and under.
FRIDAY: 12:47 pm. After stopping for lunch along the way, Liz and I returned to the office.
SMITH: There really doesn’t seem to be much there there in these charging docs.
FRIDAY: We can let the lawyers deal with the lack of probable cause. We need to take a look at each of “factual” claims to see if they’re supported by any evidence. Remember, the defendants are dealing with Montgomery County.
SMITH: OK. I’ll start going through them.
FRIDAY: I’ll get copies over the lab guys to see if they can turn up anything.
Thursday, May 21st, 11:02 am. They did.
SOUND: Phone rings twice. Receiver picked up.
FRIDAY: Internet Detail, Friday. … Yeah. Whatcha got? … Uh, huh. … Uh, huh. … Oh, really? … No. I’ve got a copy of that here on my computer. I can check it for myself. … Anything else? … Uh, huh. … Email it as soon as you can. … Thanks. These are good leads. … Goodbye.
SOUND: Receiver hung up.
FRIDAY: That was Anderson down at the lab. He’s compared the handwriting on those charging docs with other samples. Except for the signatures, it’s Timberland’s and not his wife’s.
SMITH: That fits with what I’m finding. Look we know that she filed for a protective order against her husband and sought custody of the children, but the complaints accuse the defendant’s of trying to take the children away from “us.” She was trying to get custody away from him, and the defendants were helping her. The complaints are written from Timberland’s point of view, not hers. Either she didn’t write what’s in the complaints or she’s not telling the truth.
FRIDAY: Timberland’s bad news. My guess it that he’s holding something over her head, and she acted under duress. But the reason she did what she did doesn’t change the facts of the case. There’s simply no evidence to support Timberland’s story.
SMITH: And it’s clear that it’s his story, not hers.
FRIDAY: Uh, huh. It seems Timberland certainly has a nose for a fantastic story.
MUSIC: Up and under.
NARRATOR: On June 24th, The Montgomery County State’s Attorney’s Office took action in both cases. In a moment, the result of that action.
ANNOUNCER: As summer begins to wind down, there still plenty of nice evening ahead to be spent sitting on the porch with a cold one in my hand. I’ll keep my drink cold and my hand warm with a Team Lickspittle Thermos Can Cooler. It’s not one of those flimsy foam can wraps. It’s a solid double-wall aluminum vacuum insulated cooler made by Thermos®. It’s just one of the nifty goodies available exclusively at The Hogewash Store. Stop by today and spend some of your hard-earned cash to help support Team Lickspittle. You can also show your support by hitting the Tip Jar.
NARRATOR: On June 24th, The Montgomery County State’s Attorney’s Office entered nolle prosequi on both charges. The basis for the dismissal of the charges was a lack of evidence to support the case. This constituted resolution in favor of both defendants.
MUSIC: Theme up and under.
ANNOUNCER: You have just heard Blognet, a series of authentic cases from official files. Technical advice comes from the office of the Twitter Town Sheriff’s Department.
MUSIC: Theme up to music out.
ANNOUNCER: Blognet is a work of fiction. Anyone who thinks it’s about him should read Proverbs 28:1.
Be sure to tune in on Monday evenings at 6 pm Eastern Time for the transcribed adventures of the man with the action-packed Twitter account, America’s fabulous Internet investigator—Yours Truly, Johnny Atsign. This is LBS, the Lickspittle Broadcasting System.