Excerpt from John Murphy’s November 11, 2011 Pleading

Excerpt from John Murphy’s November 11, 2011 Pleading
Seeking, among other things, First Amendment Violating, Prior Restraint
that Michelle Murphy’s “Social Media” Campaign be Terminated
with a Gag Order
* * * * *
The Court's Power to Terminate Ms. Murphy's "Social Media" Campaign
A driving force behind Mr. Farmer's increasingly theatrical filings is Ms. Murphy's
"social media" campaign, which includes the Facebook page entitled "Free Jack and Thomas,"
the website www.freejackandthomas.com, and postings on Twitter, Instagram, and likely other
social media outlets. Moreover, Ms. Murphy has used social media to contact the boys in
violation of the Court's "no contact" order (given that the boys are able to access social media
anytime either of them has access to the Internet). Even the most cursory review of the postings
on these sites (particularly the "Free Jack and Thomas" Facebook page) confirms: (a) Ms.
Murphy fully intends the sites to function as a tool for "indirect" contact with the boys, in that
she uploads near-daily posts specifically addressed to the boys; (b) Ms. Murphy, her relatives,
and her "supporters" are using these sites to spread defamatory falsehoods about the Court, Mr.
Murphy, Ms. Haugerud, Mr. Murphy's counsel, Ms. Harwell, Ms. Freeman, and other
participants in the judicial process; and (c) the social media sites contain wide-ranging and
systematic distortions of the proceedings in this litigation, thereby threatening further confusion
and damage to the boys. By way of illustration only, Mr. Murphy attaches as Exhibit F the 10
postings to the "Free Jack and Thomas" Facebook page on November 9, 2014 (Jack's birthday),
in which Ms. Murphy repeatedly attempts to use the Facebook page to send messages to Jack.
Although the emergence of social media is a relatively new phenomena, a recent decision
of the Georgia Court of Appeals specifically confirmed the propriety of judicial orders restricting
social media posting in a domestic relations dispute. In Lacy v. Lacy, the trial court entered an
order that "restrained and enjoined [the parties] from posting matters about each other or their
current litigation on Facebook or other social networking sites." 320 Ga. App. 739, 752, 740
S.E.2d 695, 706 (2013). Rejecting the argument that this restraint implicated any freedom of the
press issues, the Court of Appeals explained that ''this case involves a court's authority in a
divorce and child custody proceeding to 'make prohibitive or mandatory orders, with or without
notice or bond, and upon such terms and conditions as the court may deem just.'" Id (quoting
O.C.G.A. § 9-ll-65(e)).
Although the "issue of restricting parents' behavior on social networking websites during
a divorce and child custody proceeding" was one of first impression, the appellate court ruled the
trial court had not erred in imposing such restrictions on the parties' behavior on social
networking websites. Id at 752, 740 S.E.2d at 707. The Lacy court relied on the Georgia
Supreme Court's prior holding that a trial court "can require the parties in a divorce proceeding
'to refrain from making derogatory remarks about the other before the children."' Id at 752, 740
S.E.2d at 706 (quoting Maloof v. Maloof,231 Ga. 811, 812(6), 204 S.E.2d 162 (1974)). The
Court of Appeals also relied on prior decisions finding "that parties in divorce proceedings were
in contempt for violating rders that restrained them from behavior including telephoning the
other's workplace or communicating with each other." Id
Other jurisdictions have agreed. In Nash v. Nash, the Arizona Court of Appeals upheld a
trial court's order prohibiting the parties in a divorce/child support proceeding "from posting
'disparaging comments' about each other in social media." 232 Ariz. 473, 481, 307 P.3d 40, 48
(Ariz. Ct. App. 2013). The court noted that, in dissolution matters, "[o]rders barring a parent
from disparaging the other in front of the children are common." Id. at 482, 307 P.3d at 49.
Accordingly, the trial court "did not abuse its discretion in entering the order barring both parties
from disparaging the other by way of social media." Id at 483, 307 P.3d at 50.
Thus, this Court is vested with wide discretion to restrict Ms. Murphy from posting
matters regarding the current litigation, plaintiff, his wife, and/or the children, on Facebook or
any other social media outlet. The very public nature of Ms. Murphy's Facebook postings to
date must be. emphasized: anyone with or without a Facebook account can view (and save copies
of) the personal and sensitive information Ms. Murphy has posted and continues to post
regarding the minor children, this litigation, and the allegations made therein. 5 The widespread
nature of such publication is, like virtually all of the other conduct in this case by Ms. Murphy
and Mr. Farmer, antithetical to the best interests of the children.
Given Ms. Murphy's and Mr. Farmer's prior refusal to comply with this Court's orders
and anticipated meritless appeal, Mr. Murphy respectfully requests that any Order of this Court
directing Ms. Murphy to remove her "social media" postings be accompanied by the imposition
of a civil contempt fine for each day that Ms. Murphy does not comply. See, e.g., Darroch v.
Willis, 286 Ga. 566, 571-72, 690 S.E.2d 410, 415 (2010) (endorsing imposition of a daily civil
contempt sanction as a tool to enforce domestic litigant to comply with court order). Mr.
Murphy respectfully submits that the Court impose a daily contempt fine of $500 against Ms.
Murphy and Mr. Farmer, jointly and severally, for each day that Ms. Murphy does not remove
any and all Internet postings regarding this litigation, Mr. Murphy, Ms. Haugerud, and the boys.
For the foregoing reasons, Mr. Murphy respectfully requests that the Court:
Deny all of Ms. Murphy's recently-filed motions for disqualification (as listed
above) as untimely and meritless;
Require future "Requests to File" submitted by Ms. Murphy/Mr. Farmer to
include: (1) a concise statement explaining why the motion is timely; (2) a concise statement of
the specific legal authority supporting the relief requested in the motion; (3) citation of any prior
decision or order by this Court or any Georgia appellate court addressing the issue presented; and
(4) a certification the motion is not filed for purposes of delay or harassment;
Among other things, Ms. Murphy repeatedly has provided specific details regarding the boys' ·
location and school, at the same time she makes outlandish claims regarding Ms. Haugerud's
alleged wealth (frequently referring to her as a "billionaires" [sic]). These publicly-available
posts invite would-be kidnappers or other criminals to target the boys and Ms. Haugerud.
Enter an Order (1) restricting Ms. Murphy or anyone on her behalf from posting
matters regarding the current litigation, Mr. Murphy, Ms. Haugerud, and the boys on Facebook,
on any other social media outlet, or otherwise on the Internet; (2) directing Ms. Murphy to
remove any such material currently published or maintained on any and all social media websites
that are under her custody, control, or dominion; (3) prohibiting Ms. Murphy from circumventing
the Court's restrictions on posting by aiding or abetting anyone else in posting such material; and
(4) providing for a civil contempt fee of $500 per day against Ms. Murphy and Mr. Farmer,
jointly and severally, to accrue in the event Ms. Murphy refuses to terminate her social media
postings and during the pendency of any appeal of the order restricting Ms. Murphy's social
media postings;
Award Mr. Murphy all attorney's fees and costs incurred in preparing this
Consolidated Response to Defendant's Recent Motions for Disqualification, pursuant to the
Court's March 13 Order as well as the Court's inherent and statutory authority; and
Award such other relief as the Court deems just and proper.
Respectfully submitted, November 11, 2014.
Attorneys for Plaintiff John Harold Murphy
Taylor B. Drake
Georgia Bar No. 679559
10 Brown Street
Newnan, Georgia 30263
(770) 683-6000
[email protected]