A federal appeals court has ruled that Florida prosecutors can’t use a new law to charge someone with criminal contempt of court for allegedly posting online a video in which he attacked another Florida man’s wife.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit said that the law, signed last month, is vague and that it could lead to “inconsistent and unjustified” prosecutions.
The appeals court also said that a person must be convicted of criminal contempt to face punishment.
“The First Amendment permits a prosecutor to pursue criminal contempt proceedings for a defendant’s actions that are ‘not protected by the First Amendment,'” wrote Judge Diane Sykes in her decision.
Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi said in a statement that she was pleased the appeals court had ruled against her.
Bondi said she had filed a notice of appeal with the Supreme Court, but it had not yet been decided. Read more “We will continue to fight the federal prosecution of people who seek to undermine our democracy and our country,” she said.
As the case moves forward, Bondi’s office is appealing the lower court ruling.
The case was originally brought by Kevin Gormley, who is a private investigator who had posted a video on YouTube that he said showed him and his wife, a former business associate, being attacked in their home in Tampa Bay.
Gormley and his husband, Scott, who was also arrested, were accused of attacking the couple with a hammer, a crowbar and a hammer-and-sickle.
According to a video that was released by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Gormleys wife had been hit by a hammer and he was struck in the face.
Scott Gormoyles attorney told the Tampa Bay Times that the video showed Gormoys wife’s face being hit by the hammer, not a crowbars or a hammer.
In the video, Gormans wife, who had been on the phone with her husband, said: “We’ve been through so much.
They’ve been threatening us, they’ve been hitting us with their cars, they’re on the roof with the crowbars, they come into our bedroom and they hit me.”
According a report by the Tampa Tribune, the couple had two children, ages 5 and 3, who were left alone in the home after Gormrays wife was hit by an object, and the children were able to escape.
Police later arrested Gorms wife on charges of criminal trespass and criminal contempt for allegedly using an unregistered hammer to attack his wife.
She was later charged with assault on a police officer and criminal trespass.
Prosecutors charged Gormayles wife with a misdemeanor count of criminal defamation for allegedly attacking her husband.
A Florida judge granted a motion by prosecutors to dismiss the criminal defamation charges, which was denied.
After the verdict, Bondis office released a statement saying that the charges against Gormers wife were false.
But in her ruling, Sykes said that prosecutors had no case because the victim had never been charged with a crime.
Sykes said the law was vague because it included a broad category of words and phrases that could be used to describe acts of contempt.
She said it is also unclear whether prosecutors can use the law to prosecute someone who posts a video online.
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