Kansas City, MO asked in Civil Litigation and Civil Rights for Kansas

Q: What is the public law as it relates to elected representatives, does a voter have the right or ability to engage with?

I am openly expressing my disagreement with an elected individual and currently have two ongoing lawsuits against them regarding their official role in preventing constituents from accessing government-designated social media pages. The day after the elected individual's attempt to have the lawsuits dismissed was denied, they filed an ex parte protection order accusing me of stalking. Although I operate a critical political blog that discusses their actions, I have not had any form of contact with the representative apart from a single encounter at a public park in our shared neighborhood. I believe this constitutes an abuse of the legal process, but I am unsure whether I can file a motion to dismiss or request a change of venue or if I can counter.

1 Lawyer Answer
James L. Arrasmith
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  • Civil Rights Lawyer
  • Sacramento, CA

A: In the context of public law and the rights of voters to engage with elected representatives, it’s important to understand the balance between free speech and harassment or stalking laws. As a voter, you have the right to express disagreement and criticism of public officials, especially regarding their official duties. This is protected under the First Amendment.

However, when an elected official files a protection order alleging stalking, this raises a legal issue separate from your right to free speech. Stalking typically involves a pattern of behavior that causes a reasonable person to feel fear.

If you believe the protection order is an abuse of the legal process, especially if your interactions have been limited to legitimate political expression, you have the right to contest it. Filing a motion to dismiss based on the grounds that your actions constitute protected political speech, not stalking, could be a step to consider.

Seeking legal advice is crucial in this scenario. A lawyer can help you navigate the complexities of the situation, including the ex parte protection order and your ongoing lawsuits. They can advise on the best course of action, whether it's challenging the order, requesting a change of venue, or filing a counterclaim if appropriate.

Remember, while elected officials are subject to public scrutiny and criticism, legal disputes involving allegations like stalking require careful legal consideration to ensure your rights are protected while respecting the legal process.

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