Not criminal harassment to publish rude flyers State v. Burkert

Not criminal harassment to publish rude flyersState v. Burkert(A-6-16) This case tests the limits to which a broadly worded harassment statute, N.J.S.A. 2C: 33-4(c), can criminalize speech. William Burkert and Gerald Halton were corrections officers, who held positions in different unions representing distinct classes of officers. Their relationship became particularly strained after Burkert read online comments attributed to Halton’s wife that Burkert felt insulted him and his family. Angered by the insulting online comments, Burkert retaliated. Burkert downloaded the Haltons’ wedding photograph. He then copied the photograph and made two flyers, writing lewd dialogue in speech bubbles over the faces of the bride and groom. Burkert admitted that he had prepared the flyers but denied circulating them. Burkert explained that he expressed himself through the flyers rather than “get physical with the guy.” The municipal court entered a guilty…

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