No jail for man who withdrew Facebook apology


(Washington D.C. Mar 12, 2012 AVFM News)Mark Byron, the Ohio father who was ordered by a court magistrate to post an apology to his ex wife on Facebook after an earlier posting in which he criticized the family courts decision to withhold visitation rights with his son, has not received jail time for the premature withdrawal of the Facebook apology.

As reported by AVFM News and many other news sources around the world, Byron was told to post an apology written by a court magistrate every day for 30 days or face 60 days of jail time. The apology was posted only 26 of those days. This comes after an uproar from all over the world by men and fathers rights groups as well as defenders of free speech over the past several weeks concerning the decision of the court.

In a Nov. 23, 2011, Facebook post, Mark Byron wrote “… if you are an evil, vindictive woman who wants to ruin your husband’s life and take your son’s father away from him completely – all you need to do is say that you’re scared of your husband or domestic partner…” This set off a fury of legal action from the court at the behest of his ex wife that included the threat of a 60 day jail sentence if he did not post an apology written by court magistrate Paul Meyers.

“I’m sure they didn’t put me in jail (Monday) to keep it from getting bigger,” said Byron, who wore under his sports jacket a T-shirt that read “free speech” reported

Of course the court was critical of Byron too. “There is a certain monetary interest to be served in this media exploitation,” Justice Sieve of Hamilton County Domestic Relations Court said, in stern and pointed comments to Byron. Mark Byron has solicited funds to help pay for his legal costs in the case. Byron said he’s received “under $1,000.”

Though he did not get sent to Jail directly there is still a court date set for June 27th of this year.

Support for Byron has not been limited to his Facebook page. Comments on virtually all online news articles covering the story were overwhelmingly supportive of his right to free speech and his paternal rights. The Men and Fathers Rights community lent its support along with the Men’s Rights forums who were sent into a frenzy after the court decision to impose a jail sentence on Byron if he did not comply with the demand of posting an apology written by Court Magistrate Paul Meyers.

Legal experts familiar with the case also voiced their concern. Hanni Fakhoury, a staff attorney with the San Francisco-based Electronic Frontier Foundation, said the rulings are unique and “raise quite a few” free speech issues. “She wasn’t harassed because she deliberately sought this out.” he said, commenting on the court’s decision to find him in contempt of court for posting the comments even though his wife was barred from his Facebook page.

“I decided to stand up for our freedom of speech,” Byron wrote on his Facebook page last week after deciding to withdraw the court imposed apology.

“Civil rights matter.”

“In the course of history, there have been many champions of the First Amendment,” Judge Sieve said after his verdict today. “You, sir, are not one of them.

“You have, in fact, thumbed your nose, figuratively, at the court system.”

Byron encourages concerned people to donate to his legal defense.


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