City of Renton Drops Attempt to Prosecute Its Critic (and to Use a Search Warrant to Uncover His Identity)

I blogged about this case earlier under the headings “Is It a Crime to Publish Parody Videos That Use “Lewd … Language” Meant to “Embarrass and Emotionally Torment” Police Officers?” and “Search Warrant for Name of the Author of the Renton (Washington) Parody Videos Temporarily Stayed.” The news, reported last night by the Seattle Times, is that “The city of Renton won’t pursue cyberstalking charges against the digital cartoonist” and “the city withdrew the [search] warrant” aimed at uncovering the critic’s name. “Instead, officials said Thursday, they will conduct an internal investigation because they believe the cartoonist is a current police officer.” (The government’s power to discipline or even fire its employees based on their speech is considerably greater than its power to prosecute people based on their speech.)

“‘There has been no relevant information that we have uncovered to date on the cyberstalking case to further a criminal investigation,’ Chief Administrative Officer Jay Covington said in a statement.” Sounds quite right, for reasons I discussed in the original post. Thanks to Shane Lidman for the pointer.

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