This episode of Blognet first ran five years ago today.
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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. Criminal harassment charges have been filed against a pair of bloggers. 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 Thursday, August 1st. It was clear and warm in Westminster. 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 6:52 am when I entered Room S-121. Internet Detail.
SOUND: Door opens. Footsteps across room. Chair pulled out. Computer boot up tone. Telephone rings twice. Receiver picked up.
FRIDAY: Internet Detail. Friday … Hi, Liz … Yeah. I heard on the radio. How bad is it? … You should be able to bail out on Reese Road and come in on Old 140 … No. Don’t worry. I’ll hold the fort until you get here … No problem … OK, see you.
SOUND: Receiver hung up. Typing on keyboard. Printer whirring. Phone rings once.
FRIDAY: Internet Detail. Friday … Yes, we handle that sort of thing … When did you find out about this? … What county did you say? … Uh, huh. Do you know who filed the complaint? … Who? … Oh, yes, we’re familiar with him. What’s your connection with him? … Oh, now I remember. Yes, I’ve read your blog posts … You probably don’t have a copy of the complaint yet, do you? … Let me log in and take a look …
SOUND: Typing on keyboard.
FRIDAY: … No there’s nothing showing about that yet. The usual procedure would be for you to be sent a notice in the mail with a date to come to court to receive your summons, but they might have the Sheriff serve you … Oh, if your out of state, it will probably be mailed … Yes … If that happens, scan it and email it … Is there anything else you can tell us? … Do you know who the second person is? … Uh, huh … Oh, yes, I have his contact information … Is it the same charge? … Uh, huh … No, we’ll get in touch with him as soon as we can … Yes … Thanks for the heads up … Yes, as soon as we know something … That’s right … Goodbye.
SOUND: Receiver hung up.
A blogger who had been writing about the public activities of a convicted serial bomber and drug smuggler had been charged with harassing the bomber. It appeared that one of his colleagues had be charged as well. I contacted the second blogger and found that he was not yet aware of the charge. I briefed him on what was known so far and interviewed him for background information.
SOUND: Door opens.
SMITH: Well, that commute was painful.
SOUND: Footsteps across room. Chair pulled out.
FRIDAY: Hi, Liz. Was 140 completely blocked?
SMITH: Yeah. When I saw the medivac copter coming, I did a u-turn across the median and went back to Sandymount. What’s up this morning?
SMITH: What now?
FRIDAY: He’s filed harassment charges against a couple of bloggers.
SMITH: On what basis?
FRIDAY: They’ve been reporting on a domestic problem he’s been having.
SMITH: I’ve read their reports. They’ve been dealing with things happening in public hearings. That’s protected reporting under the First Amendment. I guess Timberland is such a special snowflake he thinks he deserves special protection.
FRIDAY: Could be. And that could be a real problem for him.
SMITH: How’s that?
FRIDAY: Snowflakes melt when the heat’s turned up.
MUSIC: Stinger and under.
FRIDAY: Monday, August 5th. 2:09 pm.
SMITH: I spoke with our District Clerk’s Office in Rockville. They say they still don’t have copies of the charging documents on those harassment charges that Timberland filed.
FRIDAY: That’s odd. When a Commissioner signs off on a set of charges, multiple copies are sent out, and one of copies is supposed to go the Clerk.
SMITH: They say the State’s Attorney has the files.
FRIDAY: Ping them again in a few days.
Thursday, August 8th. 11:26 am.
SMITH: Joe, I just got off the phone with the Clerk’s Office in Rockville. They still don’t have the files.
FRIDAY: This is getting weird. We’re not going to be able to run down all the possible leads in these cases if we don’t know what the charges actually are.
SMITH: They say that the State’s Attorney won’t let go of the files.
FRIDAY: Tuesday, August 13th. 2:58 pm.
SMITH: Joe, take a look at this.
FRIDAY: Whatcha got?
SMITH: The court database is showing that those harassment charges Timberland filed have been dropped.
SMITH: Look. Nolle prosequi.
FRIDAY: Something’s been screwy with this from the beginning, but this saves us a bunch of work.
FRIDAY: There’s nothing to investigate.
MUSIC: Up and under.
NARRATOR: On August 15th, the District Court of Maryland to additional action in both harassment cases. In a moment, the results of that action.
ANNOUNCER: Cool weather is coming. Either a Team Lickspittle hoodie or a The Grand Hog sweatshirt would be a great way to keep warm, and spending money at The Hogewash Store is a great way to support Team Lickspittle. Stop by today and spend some of your hard earned cash. Or hit the Tip Jar. They’re both ways you can support the Team.
NARRATOR: On August 15th, the District Court of Maryland acting at the request of the State’s Attorney’s Office expunged the record of the harassment charges. There is no longer any public record that they were filed.
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.
This is LBS, the Lickspittle Broadcasting System.
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Someone with a bad reputation for his criminal acts may be so infamous that he can’t be defamed. Is it possible that someone with a reputation as a liar who no one will believe cannot defame someone else? Could the same person wind up defamation proof in both ways?