Logue v. Book

Decision Date24 June 2020
Docket NumberNo. 4D18-1112,4D18-1112
Citation297 So.3d 605
Parties Derek Warren LOGUE, Appellant, v. Lauren Frances BOOK, Appellee.
CourtFlorida District Court of Appeals

ON MOTION FOR REHEARING EN BANC

KLINGENSMITH, J.

We grant the motion for rehearing en banc, vacate our prior opinion, and substitute the following in its place.

The appellant Derek Warren Logue ("Respondent") appeals a final injunction for protection against stalking. He argues, among other things, that the trial court erred in entering the injunction because the appellee failed to prove the statutory requirements for an injunction and because the injunction is a prior restraint on his free speech. We agree on both points and reverse.

This case provides our court the opportunity to address whether First Amendment freedoms have limits when applied to 21st century communications. The appellee Lauren Frances Book ("Petitioner") is a public figure—an elected official occupying the office of Florida State Senator. In addition to her duties in public office, she also runs a non-profit organization called "Lauren's Kids" whose purpose is a laudable one—to assist survivors of sexual abuse and to prevent its occurrence. In both roles, she has been a longtime public advocate for laws that support and maintain sex offender registries, and place residency restrictions on convicted offenders.

Respondent is also a public figure—the co-founder of what is described as the Anti-Registry Movement which opposes sex offender laws.1 In that capacity, he travels to, organizes, and participates in various demonstrations and counter-demonstrations around the nation opposing the type of sex offender laws for which petitioner advocates. In furtherance of this role, he maintains an online presence using both Facebook and Twitter accounts, as well as internet websites. One website relevant to this case is titled, "Floridians for Freedom: Ron and Lauren Book Exposed." Ron Book is Petitioner's father.

Petitioner filed for an injunction alleging that Respondent was harassing and cyberstalking her. The trial court held a hearing and took testimony from the parties and witnesses, after which the court entered the injunction against Respondent. That injunction is the basis for this appeal.

"A trial court has broad discretion to grant an injunction, and we review an order imposing a permanent injunction for a clear abuse of that discretion." Pickett v. Copeland , 236 So. 3d 1142, 1143-44 (Fla. 1st DCA 2018).

In support of her injunction request, Petitioner cited three primary instances of offending conduct as "threatening" to her: (1) the Respondent's protest at the end of a march in Tallahassee; (2) his appearance and conduct at a New York film festival; and (3) his social media postings on his website, blog, and other social media platforms.

At the injunction hearing, Petitioner testified about these three instances. She expressed her fear of Respondent and testified about contacting law enforcement to ensure her safety and that of her young children.

The First Instance–The Tallahassee Protest

Petitioner cited to Respondent's presence at what was, by all accounts, a peaceful demonstration in Tallahassee during a 2015 event called the "Walk in My Shoes." This event predated Petitioner's election to public office. The undisputed evidence presented at the injunction hearing showed that Respondent attended and had also encouraged others to join in his protest against the march. During the event, Respondent stood at the side of the road across the street from the State Capitol holding a three-by-three-foot handwritten sign protesting Petitioner's advocacy of sex offender registration laws. Respondent's protest also included a diorama of a homeless camp and a commode chair bearing the title, "King Ron's Throne," a reference to Petitioner's father. By all accounts, the protest included no threats or threatening activity whatsoever. Law enforcement had been notified of the protest in advance, and there were no untoward incidents reported regarding the Respondent's conduct. While this event may have been displeasing or even embarrassing to Petitioner, there is nothing from the testimony presented to the court about Respondent's activities at this protest that would in any way support the issuance of an injunction.

The Second Instance–The Film Festival

Petitioner also recounted an incident that occurred at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2016 during a screening of the film, "The Untouchables"—a documentary film about sex offenders and the use of registries. The film includes interviews and footage of Petitioner, Petitioner's father, and Respondent. The evidence at the hearing showed that Petitioner knew in advance from a variety of sources that Respondent would be there and chose to attend anyway, albeit, with security in place. The undisputed testimony revealed that Respondent sat several rows behind Petitioner during the movie. No interaction occurred between them whatsoever either before or during the film. At the end of the movie, Petitioner walked to the front of the theater to take questions. After several audience members were given the opportunity to ask questions, the microphone was given to Respondent who asked Petitioner a question along the lines of "how can you sit there and talk about how people on the registry don't deserve a second chance when your father ... is a convicted criminal and he got [a] second chance?" Taking the encounter in the light most favorable to Petitioner, Respondent was "aggressive and shouting" and pointed his finger as he asked the question. Petitioner answered the question and, following the interaction, exited the theater. At no time did Respondent attempt to approach Petitioner or initiate any other contact with her. Witnesses confirmed that Respondent never left his seat in the auditorium before he was handed the microphone to ask his question, nor did he ever approach Petitioner in any way. Respondent was not ejected from the theater and did not follow Petitioner outside. As with the first incident, there is nothing about this interaction that would support the issuance of an injunction.

The Third Instance–Respondent's Website and Social Media

Lastly, Petitioner highlighted certain content found on Respondent's "Ron and Lauren Book Exposed" website as well as other social media platforms as cause for concern. One is a picture of Petitioner's home along with her address posted on Respondent's website. The second is a video for a song containing an obscene title, with lyrics that are "Not Safe For Work" posted on his Twitter page. The third is a cartoon depicting a headstone with a vulgar insult (undoubtedly referring to Petitioner) and the phrase, "Died of Natural Causes."

Respondent's website is essentially a blog that primarily republishes news articles about Petitioner and her father, detailing what Respondent describes as "their questionable activity." As a result, most of the website's content is culled from various third-party sources and contains information published in other media. It is undisputed that Respondent never directly communicated with Petitioner about any of the posts, nor did he ever send them to her or any of her associates. According to one witness who testified at the injunction hearing, Petitioner and her group only learned of the posts from third-parties, and became concerned because "it seemed to be the language was maybe more inflammatory and very opinion based, using language that was ... kind of angry or derogative, insulting, personally insulting in addition to being just kind of a disagreement of opinions and ideas." Even in the light most favorable to Petitioner's view of the content and assuming that description to be accurate, none of the posts are sufficient to support an injunction, because none of them constitute either a threat or harassment under the cyberstalking statute.

The picture of Petitioner's home placed on Respondent's website was a Google snapshot of the structure found at the address listed in the public records as belonging to "Lauren's Kids," the advocacy group and political action committee (PAC) founded and operated by Petitioner. This fact was revealed to the court at the injunction hearing. It was also undisputed that all the information posted about the house, including its address, purchase price, and photo, was obtained entirely from publicly accessible records. Respondent violated no privacy laws or other confidentiality restrictions by republishing that information.

Other Testimony at the Hearing & Grant of the Injunction

Law enforcement witnesses testified that they viewed Respondent as a credible threat to Petitioner and described steps undertaken to ensure her safety. The FBI investigated Respondent while local and state law enforcement provided Petitioner with protection. Respondent's criminal history was learned during the investigation as was the existence of a domestic violence injunction entered against him.

The trial court considered each of these instances and granted the injunction against Respondent without identifying which of the various occurrences supported it. The court ordered Respondent to have no contact with Petitioner either directly or through a third party, or with "anyone connected with Petitioner's employment or school to inquire about Petitioner or to send any messages to Petitioner" and to refrain from "publish[ing] any statement threatening the Petitioner." The trial court also ordered Respondent "not go to, in, or within 500 feet of the Petitioner's residence or place of employment," "100 feet of the Petitioner's vehicle," or "1,000 feet of the Petitioner."

On appeal, Respondent argues the trial court erred in issuing the injunction for three statutorily required reasons. First, he argues his actions served a legitimate purpose in advocating against restrictive legislation adversely affecting sex offenders. Second, he claims that his social media activities do not constitute "a...

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  • Acad. for Positive Learning, Inc. v. Sch. Bd. of Palm Beach Cnty.
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    • Florida District Court of Appeals
    • February 24, 2021
    ...involved a significant constitutional question or has broad application to many cases. See, e.g. , Logue v. Book , 297 So. 3d 605, 620 (Fla. 4th DCA 2020) (Gross, J., concurring specially) (finding First Amendment issue to be of exceptional importance); In re Estate of Walker , 609 So. 2d 6......
  • DiTanna v. Edwards
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    • Florida District Court of Appeals
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    ..."must not only comport with common sense, it must also be evidenced by a complete lack of usefulness or utility." Logue v. Book , 297 So. 3d 605, 614 (Fla. 4th DCA 2020) (citing David , 189 So. 3d at 875 ). The legitimate purpose does not have to be the only purpose. In Gonzalez v. Funes , ......
  • Rosaly v. Konecny
    • United States
    • Florida District Court of Appeals
    • August 31, 2022
    ...(Fla. 4th DCA 2020). In short, "injunctions are not available to stop someone from uttering insults or falsehoods." Logue v. Book , 297 So. 3d 605, 614 (Fla. 4th DCA 2020).By contrast, where the complained-of conduct is more extreme and outrageous, courts have found the conduct to be suffic......
  • Cash v. Gagnon
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    • Florida District Court of Appeals
    • November 4, 2020
    ...the petitioner must allege and prove two separate instances of stalking" by competent, substantial evidence. Logue v. Book , 297 So. 3d 605, 611 (Fla. 4th DCA 2020) (quoting David v. Schack , 192 So. 3d 625, 628 (Fla. 4th DCA 2016) ). Two or more acts that are part of one continuous course ......
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1 books & journal articles
  • OVERBROAD INJUNCTIONS AGAINST SPEECH (ESPECIALLY IN LIBEL AND HARASSMENT CASES).
    • United States
    • Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy Vol. 45 No. 1, January 2022
    • January 1, 2022
    ...No. 2012 CPO 000388, at 2 (D.C. Super. Ct. Mar. 9, 2012) Online No. DVCE-17-5746 (Fla. Dist. Ct. Broward Cnty. Mar. 9, 2018), rev'd, 297 So. 3d 605 (Fla. Ct. App. 2020) (en banc) Online No. DVCE 14-4939 (Fla. Cir. Ct. Broward Cnty. Aug. 22, 2014), rev'd, 178 So. 3d 520 (Fla. Ct. App. 2015) ......

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