Just up the road from me… another divorce and custody battle that has gone on way too long. The judge’s disregard for the law, civil and human rights, and obvious malice is so hard to expose. Very happy to see this getting some press.

The blog is called the Psycho Ex Wife. And is well written. I’ve been reading it on and off since it appeared in 2007.

Read the News Story HERE

Divorced dad’s blog becomes free-speech test
By Freda R. Savana
Staff Writer
| Posted: Thursday, July 21, 2011 10:15 am

A Doylestown Township man is claiming a Bucks County judge violated his freedom of speech and his right to due process by ordering him to shut down thepsychoexwife.com, a blog he began in 2007 to discuss his bitter divorce and child custody battle.

Anthony Morelli, 42, complied last month with the order handed down by Family Court Judge Diane Gibbons. He then hired Doylestown attorney Kevin Handy to appeal the ruling to the Pennsylvania Superior Court, citing violation of his First and 14th Amendment rights.

Gibbons, who through her staff declined to comment on the open matter before the court, made her ruling in an effort to protect the two children of Anthony and Allison Morelli, according to her statements in transcripts of court proceedings. In doing so, she made it clear that violation of the no-blog ruling could jeopardize Morelli’s standing in the custody case.

Court records show Gibbons told Anthony Morelli and his girlfriend, Misty Weaver-Ostinato, who created the website, are wrong if they believe the order infringed on their free speech.

“This is about children,” said the judge during a June 14 hearing. “You may say anything that you would like to say. You may publish it. You may put it on a billboard. But you will not have your children, because that is abusive.”

“In my view, the judge crossed the legal line, from determining custody to controlling (Morelli’s) behavior. My client’s actions are protected by the First Amendment,” said Handy.

He pointed to the recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling striking down a California ban on the sale of violent video games to minors. That decision, said the attorney, reaffirmed the principle that the government can’t restrict otherwise constitutionally protected speech for the “ostensible purpose of protecting children.”

Morelli and Ostinato also claim Gibbons violated their 14th Amendment rights when she ordered the site taken down without allowing evidence, or the opportunity to argue or object, said Handy.

Anthony Morelli has found other support among First Amendment scholars as well as an online community that has used the website to post comments about their own divorce and custody experiences.

A new website, savethepsychoexwife.com, was started to accept donations to help defray Morelli’s legal costs and also to provide updates on the appeal. He said he’s received about $4,000 so far; the website indicates he hopes to raise $15,000.

The judge characterized the original website as containing “inaccurate and denigrating, belittling comments about mother. It is not just venting that I have read in these pages. It amounts to outright cruelty.”

While Morelli claims the website did not identify his family by name, Anthony used the forum to make derogatory statements about Allison Morelli and her family members. In one post, Allison was described to be like “Jabba the Hut, with less personality.”

Allison Morelli, 42, of Hatboro, said the conflict with her ex-husband has been a “very painful process” that, she said, has “put my kids through hell.”

She said she supports Gibbons’ finding that the website was abusive.

“I was so relieved, this judge has finally seen what I’ve had to deal with for the past seven years,” said Allison Morelli, referring to the beginning of the divorce.

“There’s a very small percentage that’s true and it’s all grossly exaggerated.”

“If what they were saying were true, I wouldn’t have a problem with it,” she said.

Allison Morelli, who does not have legal representation, said, “it’s not a First Amendment issue, it’s a defamation and libel issue.”

Even if her ex-husband is successful in his appeal, Allison said, “just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should.”

Anthony Morelli said the website was not about “bashing my ex-wife.” Rather, he said, he wrote in the inflammatory style to attract other people who were experiencing similar issues.

“My goal is to convey that I’ve been there, done that,” said Anthony Morelli, who added the site was getting some 200,000 visitors a month.

He said he went to great lengths to be sure the site was not found by his ex-wife or children, but Allison Morelli said she did find it about two years after the first post while researching child support issues. The court also determined the sons, ages 10 and 12, were aware of the website, though their parents disagree on whether the boys have read it.

Eugene Volokh, a UCLA law school professor and nationally recognized expert on the First Amendment, agreed with Handy.

“This is remarkably broad,” said Volokh, who posted Gibbons ruling and the appeal on his blog, The Volokh Conspiracy.

“It’s not limited to libel, it covers all speech about the ex-wife. It’s clearly unconstitutional,” Volokh said.

Gibbons’ determination the site was abusive to the children is not sufficient cause to order it taken down, according to Volokh. “That’s not an adequate rationale,” he said.

The courts have ruled even national security is not reason to order a newspaper not to publish, the professor said, citing the example of the publication of the Pentagon Papers, which revealed the nation’s involvement in the Vietnam War.

“It’s one thing to restrict speech to children, but not to the entire public. At least attempt to narrow the limits of speech,” said the professor.

Volokh continued, “I rarely criticize judges, they have a very difficult job,” but, he said, “this is a blatantly unconstitutional exercise of her authority. She’s flouting the U.S. Constitution.”

The Morelli’s are continuing to share custody of their children.

Handy said the challenge is designated as a children’s fast-track appeal, and as such, should be heard relatively soon.

Staff Writer Christina Kristofic contributed to this story.

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