United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Tacoma
ORDER ON CROSS-MOTION TO DISMISS AND MOTION FOR
B. Leighton, United States District Judge
MATTER is before the Court on Plaintiff Richard Lee
Rynearson's Motion for Preliminary Injunction [Dkt. 3]
and Defendants Robert Ferguson and Tina Robinson's
Cross-Motion to Dismiss [Dkt. 23]. In the underlying lawsuit,
Rynearson alleges certain provisions in Washington's
cyberstalking statute violate the First Amendment because
they are facially overbroad. See Dkt. 1; Wash. Rev.
Code § 9.61.260. Rynearson seeks injunctive relief
against enforcement of the statute as well as declaratory
judgment that the challenged provisions are unconstitutional.
Dkt. 1 at 7; Dkt. 3 at 5; Dkt. 25 at 4. Defendants oppose the
motion for preliminary injunction and move to dismiss the
lawsuit under the doctrine of Younger abstention
based on a related proceeding pending in Kitsap County
Superior Court. See Dkt. 23. Because the Court
determines that Younger abstention is appropriate,
Defendants' Cross-Motion to Dismiss is
GRANTED, and Rynearson's Motion for
Preliminary Injunction is DENIED AS MOOT.
Richard Rynearson is a self-proclaimed activist who regularly
authors online posts related to civil liberties. Dkt. 3 at
5-6. Defendant Robert Ferguson is the Attorney General of
Washington and Defendant Tina Robinson in the Prosecuting
Attorney for Kitsap County.
2004, the Washington Legislature passed legislation
criminalizing cyberstalking. See 2004 Wash. Legis.
Serv. Ch. 94 (codified at Wash. Rev. Code § 9.61.260).
This law makes it a crime to anonymously or repeatedly harass
another person online, providing in relevant part:
(1) A person is guilty of cyberstalking if he or she, with
intent to harass, intimidate, torment, or embarrass any other
person, and under circumstances not constituting telephone
harassment, makes an electronic communication to such other
person or a third party:
(a) Using any lewd, lascivious, indecent, or obscene words,
images, or language, or suggesting the commission of any lewd
or lascivious act;
(b) Anonymously or repeatedly whether or not conversation
(c) Threatening to inflict injury on the person or property
of the person called or any member of his or her family or
case stems from a peculiar situation involving a stalking
protection order issued against Rynearson in Bainbridge
Island Municipal Court. In November 2016, Rynearson became
Facebook friends with Clarence Moriwaki, the volunteer
founder of the Bainbridge Island Japanese-American Exclusion
Memorial. Dkt. 24-2 at 4. After a series of initially cordial
Facebook interactions, in January and February 2017,
Rynearson authored numerous Facebook posts criticizing
Moriwaki for not condemning several public officials who
supported the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) of
2012. Rynearson is opposed to a provision in the NDAA which
he believes permits internment-like indeterminate detention
of American citizens. Dkt. 3 at 6; Dkt. 23 at 9-10. Rynearson
sent numerous text messages and authored additional Facebook
posts criticizing Moriwaki, even after Moriwaki told
Rynearson that he felt harassed and requested that Rynearson
stop contacting him and refrain from posting on
Moriwaki's personal Facebook page. Moriwaki eventually
blocked Rynearson from posting on his personal Facebook page,
at which point Rynearson created a Facebook Group entitled
“Clarence Moriwaki of Bainbridge Island” in which
he created numerous memes critical of Moriwaki. Dkt. 24-2 at
6. Rynearson also paid to have Facebook advertise the page.
Id. at 7.
March 2017, Moriwaki obtained a temporary stalking protection
order against Rynearson from the Bainbridge Island Municipal
Court. Dkt. 23 at 7. In June, Rynearson's attorney
emailed a Kitsap County Deputy Prosecuting Attorney to
inquire if charges would be forthcoming against Rynearson
related to the above-described conduct. Dkt. 4 at 23. The
Deputy Prosecuting Attorney responded that he was not ...