Grace’s Law 2.0 or Brett’s Bill?

Senator Robert Zirkin (D-Baltimore County) has introduced a bill to amend the section of the Maryland Criminal Law that was used to falsely charge me with a crime. Grace’s Law, Md. Crim. L. § 3-805(b)(2) which currently makes it a crime to use an interactive computer service to “inflict serious emotional distress” on a minor, was used by Brett and Tetyana Kimberlin to bring a charge of online harassment of a minor against me in 2015. They also filed a similar charge against Aaron Walker. Our “crime” was writing truthfully about the past and present activities of Brett Kimberlin, a convicted serial bomber and drug smuggler who has used the legal system to try to silence his critics. Kimberlin claimed that writing about him distressed his daughter.

The proposed revision is even more offensive to the First Amendment. If I’m reading it correctly, someone could face three years in prison for a single act of communication on the Internet that had the effect of placing someone if fear of harm to a parent, child, sibling, or spouse. Here’s the bill. Check it out.

If this were to pass, Kimberlin’s absurd claim that truthfully writing about someone can be criminalized would become the law in Maryland.

As I type this, the constitutionality of Grace’s Law is before the Maryland Court of Special Appeals. Perhaps the underlying statute will be struck down, but I’m not holding my breath.

I’ll report more on this bill as it moves through the Legislature and on the legal challenge to Grace’s Law as it moves forward.

Stay tuned.

Local Politics

The Especially Attentive Gentle Reader may remember that I was down in Annapolis a few weeks ago advising a legislator from our county on drafting a bill to deal with a matter of local interest. The Legislature is back in session, and I’ve been asked to come down and help with some more of the technical points before the bill is introduced. The travel and meetings will punch a good-sized hole in the day, so blogging may be a bit light.

On the Road

Blogging may be a bit light today. I’ve been invited to Annapolis to provide advice on a piece of legislation being drafted for the next session of the Legislature.

UPDATE—Our county has it’s own set of interesting local issues that sometimes wind up before the Legislature. Getting local bills passed is often complicated by Carroll County being solidly conservative and at cross purposes with the rest of the Democratic Peoples Republic of Maryland.

But enough of the real world. Back to blogging!