The Epidemic of Wrongful Restraining Orders

Until I was sued in 2013 by Dash Poet, Linda Ellis for posting negative commentary about her, I never knew about the phenomena of wrongful restraining orders. She accused me of "stalking" her, when, in fact, I never came close to doing any such thing. Her paranoia and the onslaught of negative public commentary (by April Brown and many others) against her apparently took a measurable toll on her. She felt (like many other copyright extortionists) felt like they needed to "do something" to stop what we were legally and publicly discussion on the ELI Forums.

In fact, I went through the initial hearing and even up to the GA Court of Appeals without really having any clue about the phenomena of wrongful restraining orders. My lawyers and I never knew it was a "thing". It was only after July 2, 2014 when the GA Court of Appeals appeared to understand our argument that I became hopeful. Up to that point, I was somewhat skeptical that the GA judicial system truly understood Internet free speech laws and issues.

But the GA Court of Appeals gave me hope and I was always bothered that there was a missing dimension that we were not seeing. Although I had a great legal team and the appellate arguments were sound, I always felt something was "missing". It was only when I began searching for the intersection of the First Amendment, free speech, and restraining orders did I finally see the light.

The lightbulb moment came for our team when I found two legal papers by Eugene Volokh and Aaron H. Caplan, respectively. They were amazing legal papers which described how restraining/harassment orders were often implement in lower courts to unlawfully restrict lawful speech. I was so excited that in the dead of night, I contact both legal scholars and explained how I was a live case study of what they wrote. They, in turn, reach out to my lawyer to discuss my case. It happened so quickly and it was exciting for our side.

This ultimately led to the EFF's involvement and sponsorship of an amicus brief on my behalf. It also led to Eugene Volokh to personally fly to Atlanta to conduct a moot court in preparation for oral argument for October 7, 2014. We had a powerhouse team of Georgia legal minds within this moot court. Two of my friends who traveled to Georgia to support me were witness to this moot court and they were impressed.

The oral argument from October 7, 2014 was devastating to Linda Ellis' position. We have it available on both YouTube and Vimeo. Her lawyers had weak legal arguments and poor legal rebuttals. The so-called legal arguments that succeeded in lower court failed miserably in the highest court of Georgia.

On March 27, 2015, I (along with my team) won. It was a unanimous win as decided by the GA Supreme Court. All seven justices agreed with my position and overturned the wrong lifetime stalking protective order against me. It took two long years for this to happen. All the content that was ordered removed from my website was restored a few weeks later. I was vindicated.

However, the sad part is that I have since seen and heard of so many wrongful restraining orders being imposed upon people who had little ability to legally defend themselves or have access to a support team and smart, qualified appellate lawyers like I did.

I am grateful for my win but it distresses me I have learned so much about how harmful wrongful restraining orders are and it hits so many people with unintended consequences. There is an epidemic of it and that is why there are legal papers and websites devoted to the subject matter. I have become more more aware and educated on the subject of wrongful restraining orders. They are blunt legal instruments abused by so many creating excessive collateral damage.

I am here to tell everyone that wrongful restraining orders are alive and well. And yes, they are a real "thing". There is an epidemic and it is very ugly and very unfair. This forum aims to do something about it by educating others.
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