Court: Apologize to wife on Facebook, or go to jail

Court: Apologize to wife on Facebook, or go to jail

Summary: Being given a jail sentence for posting something on your Facebook Wall is one thing, but having the option to apologize on your Facebook Wall to avoid a jail sentence is something else.


Magistrate Paul Meyers has ordered Mark Byron to apologize to his estranged wife Elizabeth Byron for a Facebook comment he posted late last year. Mark was sentenced to 60 days in jail and a $500 fine, but to avoid both, the magistrate gave him the option to pay back child support and post an apology on Facebook. Mark was told he had to keep the apology on his Facebook profile for 30 days. Furthermore, he was forbidden to close down his Facebook account and had to friend his wife or someone of her choosing so they could check that the terms of the deal were being upheld.

The magistrate actually wrote the apology for Mark and then included it into the sentence. Here's the message Mark needs to post on Facebook every single day for 30 days straight:

I would like to apologize to my wife, Elizabeth Byron, for the comments regarding her and our son [name withheld] which were posted on my Facebook wall on or about November 23, 2011. I hereby acknowledge that two judicial officials in the Hamilton County Domestic Relations court have heard evidence and determined that I committed an act of domestic violence against Elizabeth in January 17, 2011. While that determination is currently being appealed, it has not been overturned by the appellate court. As a result of that determination, I was granted supervised parenting time with [our son] on a twice weekly basis. The reason I saw [our son] only one time during the four month period which ended about the time of my Facebook posting was because I chose to see him on only that single occasion during that period. I hereby apologize to Elizabeth for casting her in an unfavorable light by suggesting that she withheld from me or that she in any manner prevented me from seeing [our son] during that period. That decision was mine and mine alone. I further apologize to all my Facebook Friends for attempting to mislead them into thinking that Elizabeth was in any manner preventing me from spending time with [our son], which caused several of my Facebook Friends to respond with angry, venomous, and inflammatory comments of their own.

In June 2011, Mark was charged with and found guilty of civil domestic violence against Elizabeth. She was granted a temporary protection order and primary custody of their son while he was allowed supervised visits twice a week. He has appealed that conviction, and the appeal is still processing. A divorce between Mark and Elizabeth is also pending. In November 2011, Mark posted the following comment on Facebook, according to court records from Cincinnati, Ohio:

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 and they'll take him away!

Mark had blocked his wife from accessing his Facebook profile but Elizabeth still managed to discover the comment. She thus filed a motion with the court saying that Mark had violated the protection order, which stated he was prohibited from "causing plaintiff or the child of the parties to suffer physical and/or mental abuse, harassment, annoyance or bodily injury." Though the post didn't name Elizabeth, Meyers agreed that it violated the temporary protection order granted to her and the couple's son, and hence the sentencing.

Responses by Facebook friends to his posting caused Elizabeth to be "afraid and concerned," according to court documents. Byron and his attorney, Becky Ford, say he made his comments out of frustration and never expected his wife to see them since she couldn't access his account. "Once he made the comments, some of his Facebook friends started making inflammatory comments which he had no control over," Ford told CBS News, and continued that his comments were "nothing other than free speech communication where he was venting truthful information."

Mark must appear in court on March 19 and show proof that he posted the apology. Otherwise, he will have to pay the fine and go to jail.

See also:

Topic: Social Enterprise

Emil Protalinski

About Emil Protalinski

Emil is a freelance journalist writing for CNET and ZDNet. Over the years,
he has covered the tech industry for multiple publications, including Ars
Technica, Neowin, and TechSpot.

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  • What an evil, vindictictive woman she is.

    The guy might be reasonably post the 'apology' that was written by the presiding judge if he could also acknowledge that it was done by court order in order to avoid jail time. That it appears his original post was truthful is only incidental.
  • apology

    Come on judge, Anybody with any sense knows the guy is NOT going to mean it if he apologizes! Your real goal here is to humiliate and torture him.The guy probably feels he wasn't treated fairly,and I'd give 95 out of 100 odds he wasn't. I've seen the work of our legal system and generally speaking,judges and lawyers couldn't grab their a.. with both hands as far as figuring out what the truth is! Nobody really respects judges anymore. They give about 5 minutes to a case and they are "experts" about you.Yeah,Right!
    • well . . .

      Well, we weren't there at the court case, so we don't know exactly what his reaction to the demand for an apology was.

      And it appears this is separate from the domestic violence case? He's still being punished for the domestic violence.
    • He's better off going to jail

      60 days isn't that long. The judge's other choice is bullsh!t
  • Moral of the story

    If you are in the middle of a legal battle (even if it is just a fight with your ex-wife to get the last roll of TP), don't post stupid comments on Facebook.

    Yes I am talking to all. Take your Cell or any electrical piece that is problematic give it to 14 year boy, he will look at it and bang one click it is working .Every piece that goes in bits and bytes are known all. Some youths are very smart. A set of recent papers, many of which draw on data from NASA's Cassini spacecraft, reveal new details in the emerging picture of how Saturn's moon Titan shifts with the seasons and even throughout the day. The papers, published in the journal Planetary and Space Science in a special issue titled "Titan through Time," show how this largest moon of Saturn is a cousin -- though a very peculiar cousin -- of Earth. Now this is called finding NASA used for good pursue. A small mishap and where is our IT? I wonder? I thank you Firozali A.Mulla DBA
  • I see it on Facebook now!

    Looks like his Facebook profile is public:!/byronphoto
    • Crazy

      I checked it out and his ex FIL (if that's who it is) was an ass in every sense of the word. And that was from the videos posted on his FB site. I'm glad I have a really good relationship with my wife and with my in laws...

    I am constantly amazed at how far from the Constitution and the bill of Rights this country has fallen in the 20 years i have lived overeas! This ACT by this "judge" is not ONLY unconstitutional it is IMMORAL and a travesty! #one, the man had EVERY RIGHT to post a personal opinion ANYWHERE on earth, FaceBook or otherwise. #two.. What he WROTE just HAPPENS TO BE TRUE in the USA, men experience this every day. the Judges actions make it plain that each and every word the man said, and his underlying reasons WERE IN FACT, correct! #three, the veracity "apology" as worded by the judge, is for the moment, ONLY THE VIEWS of that judge. The article at least states that so far the matter has NOT finished being adjudicated, and a such it is "yet to be determined" if a single word of the judge's statement is valid or not. A SUCH his word represent GROSS SLANDER, and ARE DEFAMATORY. The judge needs to be removed immediately! whether this judge is male female elected or appointed, they have NO BUSINESS being a judge in the USA, Former Soviet Union perhaps. Guatemala, Bolivia, Korea MAYBE, not in a country based on OUR Constitution!!!
    • Constitution

      And in the last 30 years or so, since when did the constitution mean anything? I've been seeing politicians, law enforcement and judges using it as a mat to wipe their feet on. It don't mean a thing to most of them, unless it's to benefit them of course.....
  • is this man's freedom of speech being abridged, contray to our Constitution

    or is he just facing the consequences of his actions?