Free Speech on the Docket

State v. Resovsky

Status:
Closed
Case Dates:
Friday, 14 December, 2012 - Friday, 25 January, 2013
Facts:

Defendant Joseph Resovsky made a comment on his Facebook page after the Connecticut shootings that read, “I’m so happy somebody shot up all those little fuckers. Viva la School Shootings!!!!” Reportedly, the Medina Police Department received numerous calls regarding this posting. Although Mr. Resovsky lives in Lorain County and posted his remarks on his home computer, the Medina County Municipal Court issued a warrant for his arrest and charged him with misdemeanor “Inducing Panic” pursuant to Ohio Revised Code §2917.31. The Lorain County sheriff went to Mr. Resovsky’s Columbia Station home with a warrant for his arrest, but he was not home at the time. He later turned himself in to the Medina Police and posted a $5,000 surety bond with the Clerk of Courts. His initial court appearance was scheduled for December 26, 2012 for an arraignment. However, on December 26, 2012, he filed a pro se Motion to Dismiss, alleging that the Medina Municipal Court lacked jurisdiction, and that no crime was committed due to the fact that his speech was protected under the Ohio and U.S. Constitutions. His motion was denied, and he contacted the ACLU of Ohio for assistance.

Legal Theory:

This case raises numerous constitutional issues, including First Amendment protection of speech that does not present an imminent threat, as well as challenges to the vague and overly broad language of the inducing panic statute on its face. Significant civil liberties issues are at stake and the novelty of the facts lend themselves to development of a new body of law in the area of “cyber-speech” protection. Additionally, the statute under which Resovsky was charged may require that a defendant also face a charge for a “predicate offense” to be valid.

Status:

Resovsky entered a plea of “not guilty” with the Medina Municipal Court on January 8, 2013. We have obtained a copy of the Facebook post and the recordings of the phone calls that instigated police action. On January 11, 2013 the prosecutors moved for a Motion to Dismiss without prejudice. The case was dismissed without prejudice on January 25, 2013. We filed a motion to have the record of the case sealed and a hearing on this issue scheduled for March 15, 2013. The court granted our motion to seal the case.