Jail for criticizing Blackwater?

Washington has an obscure statute dating back to its territorial days that makes it a crime to with malice publish anything that exposes a person to ridicule or is injurious to  corporation.  It’s rather obscure and rarely prosecuted but it’s on the books! At RCW 9.58.010.

On its face this is rather troublesome.  Think of the number of times you have written or emailed or transmitted something (even a picture) that is critical of a corporation or might subject a person to chiding.  Maximum term: One year.

This statute, if vigorously prosecuted would give the state frightening power over people,  have a dramatically chilling effect on communications and a repressive effect on the citizenry.

It was recently invoked by the Department of Corrections against a prisoner.  The Court of Appeals took a look at the law and declared it unconstitutional, as overly broad and infringing on our freedom of speech.

In this instance we all benefited by the Court protecting the rights of a person in prison.

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