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.