Stephanie Gray is an employee at the D.C. Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency (CSOSA), whose duties include updating the personal data of people on the D.C. Sex Offender Registry (a/k/a “Megan’s List”). Dennis Sobin is a former sex offender who finished serving his sentence long ago and who objects to the requirement that he report to CSOSA every six months for the rest of his life to update his data and photograph. He created a website called the “Idiots Registry” which criticizes the Sex Offender Registry and registries generally; it includes photographs of Ms. Gray, who is labeled as a “Face of Evil.” He also created fliers with the same message and left copies at the Henry J. Daly Building, which houses CSOSA as well as the MPD and some other agencies.
In September 2013 Ms. Gray filed a petition for a Civil Protective Order in D.C. Superior Court, accusing Sobin of writing “derogatory information” about her and asking the court to order him to take her photograph off his website and to stop distributing fliers containing her photo.
In December 2013 we filed an amicus brief arguing that Sobin’s website and fliers were covered by the First Amendment, a central purpose of which is to protect the right to criticize the government and its functionaries. After an evidentiary hearing and oral argument, Judge Todd Edelman denied the petition, agreeing with us that the First Amendment protects speech about public issues, even if it criticizes others or hurts their feelings.