Residents, trustee in Warren County settle Facebook lawsuit

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Residents, trustee in Warren County settle Facebook lawsuit

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U.S. District Judge Judge Susan Dlott approved a consent decree and settlement ending the lawsuit between residents of Hamilton Twp. and Trustee David Wallace Jr., shown here.

A group of Warren County residents has reached an agreement with one of their public officials over access to his Hamilton Twp. Trustee Facebook site.

U.S. District Judge Judge Susan Dlott approved a consent decree and settlement ending the lawsuit between residents of Hamilton Twp. and Trustee David Wallace Jr.

Wallace is to unblock residents unable to comment on a Facebook page where he communicates with township residents.

Dlott also ordered him to unblock “any other social media site, or webpage established by Wallace arising out of public, not personal, circumstances or maintained for the purpose of providing information to the public, communicating with his constituents, or otherwise used as a tool of governance,” according to the settlement filed in U.S. District Court in Cincinnati.

The lawsuit was among the first testing the legal boundaries of the First Amendment on Facebook and cited one other similar case, on appeal in the U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals in Virginia.

The site also features Wallace’s re-election materials. He also has another web page devoted to his campaign for reelection on Nov. 7.

“The lawsuit was nonsense,” Wallace said Friday. “It’s a waste of taxpayer dollars.This is why it’s difficult to find anyone to run for political office.”

He declined to elaborate on this statement or respond to further questions.

He is one of seven candidates running for two seats on the three-seat board of trustees in Hamilton Twp., a thriving, politically active township, south of Lebanon.

Also running are Darryl Cordrey, Cadi Kelly, Nathan Myers, Joe Rozzi, Roxan Tarnowski and Kim Lukens.

Joshua Engel, the residents’ lawyer, called the consent decree and settlement a “huge First Amendment victory,” although some residents still seem to be blocked on Wallace’s Trustee Facebook page, contrary to the terms of the consent decree and settlement filed on Oct. 24.

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