The laws vary from state to state, and sometimes from city/county to city/county. I urge everyone to check their local laws. In Georgia:
On Wed, 22 Sep 1999 02:59:45 GMT, thomlove <email@example.com> wrote:
>I've been wanting to ask you a question. I'm curious if the CofS is
>breaking any law when it petitions a home
Yes, residential picketing is illegal here in Atlanta. CODE OF ORDINANCES City of Atlanta, GEORGIA, Sec. 106-89
> and publically labels an
>individual a religious bigot and such. Is it against the law?
If they distribute flyers on mailboxes, telephone poles, or on the ground, it is illegal. Mailboxes are covered by Federal law, and the Criminal Code of Georgia, 16-7-42 G, known as the "Litter Control Law" covers many areas in addition to the ground.
>I mean, could the CofS be sued for defamation by such acts?
You be the judge:
16-11-40 G *** CODE SECTION *** 12/31/98Of course, the "Religious Bigot" flyers, like the parishioners.org site, are so ridiculous, that people tend to ridicule the flyers and the originators of the flyers, rather than hate, hold in contempt, or ridicule the person targetted by the flyers. The "breach of the peace" part does apply, however, as peals of laughter ring out whenever and wherever the "religious bigot" flyers are distributed.
(a) A person commits the offense of criminal defamation when, without a privilege to do so and with intent to defame another, living or dead, he communicates false matter which tends to blacken the memory of one who is dead or which exposes one who is alive to hatred, contempt, or ridicule, and which tends to provoke a breach of the peace.
(b) A person who violates subsection (a) of this Code section is guilty of a misdemeanor.
>If so, they could be in serious trouble if anyone decided to go ahead.
Yes, and the co$ists involved in such activities would be wise to keep this in mind. And let's not forget this one:
16-11-39.1 G *** CODE SECTION *** 12/31/98>From what I've read,
(a) A person commits the offense of harassing phone calls if such person telephones another person repeatedly, whether or not conversation ensues, for the purpose of annoying, harassing, or molesting another person or the family of such other person; uses over the telephone language threatening bodily harm; telephones and intentionally fails to hang up or disengage the connection; or knowingly permits any telephone under such person's control to be used for any purpose prohibited by this subsection.
(b) Any person who commits the offense of harassing phone calls shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.
It takes money and time to sue. The govt. authorities seem uninterested, but, granted, they do have murders and rapes to worry about. I'm sure they're not afraid of the co$. ;^)
However, it only takes time to protest, distribute flyers, and talk to people. One has to balance the damage a lawsuit would do against the damage the critic can do by focusing eforts on critical activity. Co$ loves to tie critics up in never ending legal battles, and thus prevent the protest and leafletting activities which are much more visible to the public. As you said yourself:
>I guess the purpose of the letter was to cause you problems so your
>attention would be diverted from attacking the CofS. I think it is
>called, 'nullification', or something like that.
I find it appalling that Mrs. Minton would be tormented this way, the same way Gregg Hagglund's parents were, which I was just as disgusted by as I am by this. I don't know anything about the relationship between Mr. and Mrs. Minton, but if Mrs. Minton is upset about the breakup of her marriage, this is just plain CRUEL to her. Regardless of Bob's actions, why is someone tormenting his wife, who is obviously not responsible for Bob's actions? This is the type of action which gets people the angriest at co$, involving other people unrelated to the critical movement in usually fruitless attempts to silence their critics.
>However, I am curious. No one seems to know. Do you?
If Bob lived in Georgia, the following Georgia law might apply. I find part (d) to be of particular interest when it comes to Co$ists:
16-5-90 G *** CODE SECTION *** 12/31/98
(a) A person commits the offense of stalking when he or she follows, places under surveillance, or contacts another person at or about a place or places without the consent of the other person for the purpose of harassing and intimidating the other person. For the purpose of this article, the term "place or places" shall include any public or private property occupied by the victim other than the residence of the defendant. For the purposes of this article, the term "harassing and intimidating" means a knowing and willful course of conduct directed at a specific person which causes emotional distress by placing such person in reasonable fear for such person's safety or the safety of a member of his or her immediate family, by establishing a pattern of harassing and intimidating behavior, and which serves no legitimate purpose. This Code section shall not be construed to require that an overt threat of death or bodily injury has been made.
(b) Except as provided in subsection (c) of this Code section, a person who commits the offense of stalking is guilty of a misdemeanor.
(c) Upon the second conviction, and all subsequent convictions, for stalking, the defendant shall be guilty of a felony and shall be punished by imprisonment for not less than one year nor more than ten years.
(d) Before sentencing a defendant for any conviction of stalking under this Code section or aggravated stalking under Code Section 16-5-91, the sentencing judge may require psychological evaluation ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ of the offender and shall consider the entire criminal record of the offender. At the time of sentencing, the judge is authorized to issue a permanent restraining order against the offender to protect the person stalked and the members of such person's immediate family, and the judge is authorized to require psychological ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ treatment of the offender as a part of the sentence, or as a ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ condition for suspension or stay of sentence, or for probation. 16-5-91 G *** CODE SECTION *** 12/31/98 16-5-91. (a) A person commits the offense of aggravated stalking when such person, in violation of a bond to keep the peace posted pursuant to Code Section 17-6-110, temporary restraining order, temporary protective order, permanent restraining order, permanent protective order, preliminary injunction, or permanent injunction or condition of pretrial release, condition of probation, or condition of parole in effect prohibiting the behavior described in this subsection, follows, places under surveillance, or contacts another person at or about a place or places without the consent of the other person for the purpose of harassing and intimidating the other person.
(b) Any person convicted of a violation of subsection (a) of this Code section shall be guilty of a felony and, upon conviction thereof, shall be punished by imprisonment for not less than one nor more than ten years and by a fine of not more than $10,000.00. The provisions of subsection (d) of Code Section 16-5-90 apply to sentencing for conviction of aggravated stalking.
16-5-92 G *** CODE SECTION *** 12/31/98
The provisions of Code Sections 16-5-90 and 16-5-91 shall not apply to persons engaged in activities protected by the Constitution of the United States or of this state or to persons or employees of such persons lawfully engaged in bona fide business activity or lawfully engaged in the practice of a profession.
16-5-93 G *** CODE SECTION *** 12/31/98
(a) The victim of stalking or aggravated stalking shall be entitled to notice of the release from custody of the person arrested for and charged with the offense of stalking or aggravated stalking and to notice of any hearing on the issue of bail for such person. No such notice shall be required unless the victim provides a landline telephone number other than a pocket pager or electronic communication device number to which such notice can be directed.
(b) The law enforcement agency, prosecutor, or court directly involved with the victim at the outset of a criminal prosecution for the offense of stalking or aggravated stalking shall advise the victim of his or her right to notice and of the requirement of the victim's providing a landline telephone number other than a pocket pager or electronic communication device number to which the notice of custodial release or bail hearing can be directed. Such victim shall transmit the telephone number described in this subsection to the court and custodian of the person charged with stalking or aggravated stalking.
(c) Upon receipt of the telephone number, the custodian of the person charged with stalking or aggravated stalking shall take reasonable and necessary steps under the circumstances to notify the victim of the person's release from custody. Such notice shall, at a minimum, include:
(1) Prior to the person's release, placing a telephone call to the number provided by the victim and giving notice to the victim or any person answering the telephone who appears to be sui juris or by leaving an appropriate message on a telephone answering machine; and
(2) Following the person's release, if the custodian is unable to notify the victim by the method provided in paragraph (1) of this subsection, telephoning the number provided by the victim no less than two times in no less than 15 minute intervals within one hour of custodial release and giving notice to the victim or to any person answering the telephone who appears to be sui juris or by leaving an appropriate message on a telephone answering machine.
(d) Upon receipt of the telephone number, the court conducting a hearing on the issue of bail shall take reasonable and necessary steps under the circumstances to notify the victim of any scheduled hearing on the issue of bail. Such notice shall, at a minimum, include placing a telephone call to the number provided by the victim prior to any scheduled hearing on the issue of bail.
(e) Notwithstanding any other provision of this Code section, a scheduled bail hearing or the release of the person charged with stalking or aggravated stalking shall not be delayed solely for the purpose of effectuating notice pursuant to this Code section for a period of more than 30 minutes.
(f) Upon the person's release or escape from custody after conviction and service of all or a portion of a sentence, notification to the victim shall be provided by the State Board of Pardons and Paroles as set forth in Code Sections 42-9-46 and 42-9-47. (g) This Code section shall not apply to a custodian who is transferring a person charged with stalking or aggravated stalking to another custodian in this state.
(h) As used in this Code section, the term "custodian" means a warden, sheriff, jailer, deputy sheriff, police officer, officer or employee of the Department of Juvenile Justice, or any other law enforcement officer having actual custody of an inmate.
(i) A custodian or his or her employing agency shall not be liable in damages for a failure to provide the notice required by this Code section, but the custodian shall be subject to appropriate disciplinary action including termination for such failure.
16-5-94 G *** CODE SECTION *** 12/31/98
(a) A person who is not a minor who alleges stalking by another person may seek a restraining order by filing a petition alleging conduct constituting stalking as defined in Code Section 16-5-90. A person who is not a minor may also seek relief on behalf of a minor by filing such a petition.
(b) Jurisdiction for such a petition shall be the same as for family violence petitions as set out in Code Section 19-13-2.
(c) Upon the filing of a verified petition in which the petitioner alleges with specific facts that probable cause exists to establish that stalking by the respondent has occurred in the past and may occur in the future, the court may order such temporary relief ex parte as it deems necessary to protect the petitioner or a minor of the household from stalking. If the court issues an ex parte order, a copy of the order shall be immediately furnished to the petitioner.
(d) The court may grant a protective order or approve a consent agreement to bring about a cessation of conduct constituting stalking. Orders or agreements may:
(1) Direct a party to refrain from such conduct;
(2) Order a party to refrain from harassing or interfering with the other;
(3) Award costs and attorney's fees to either party; and
(4) Order either or all parties to receive appropriate psychiatric or psychological services as a further measure to prevent the recurrence of stalking.
(e) The provisions of subsections (c) and (d) of Code Section 19-13-3, subsections (b), (c), and (d) of Code Section 19-3-4, and Code Section 19-3-5, relating to family violence petitions, shall apply to petitions filed pursuant to this Code section, except that the clerk of court may provide forms for petitions and pleadings to persons alleging conduct constituting stalking and to any other person designated by the superior court pursuant to this Code section as authorized to advise persons alleging conduct constituting stalking on filling out and filing such petitions and pleadings.
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