State of Oklahoma (Miller) v. King

NOTE: The information and commentary contained in this database entry are based on court filings and other informational sources that may contain unproven allegations made by the parties. The truthfulness and accuracy of such information is likely to be in dispute. Information contained in this entry is current as of the last event mentioned in the "Description" section below; additional proceedings might have taken place in this matter since this event.

Summary

Threat Type: 

Criminal Investigation

Date: 

08/12/2008

Status: 

Concluded

Location: 

Oklahoma

Disposition: 

Subpoena Enforced
Withdrawn

Verdict or Settlement Amount: 

N/A
Harold King runs the forum site "McAlester Watercooler," which he describes as a forum for citizens of McAlester, Oklahoma to "voice their views about the on-going City events." In August 2008, local District Attorney Jim Bob Miller filed an offense... read full description
Parties

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

Harold King

Type of Party: 

Individual
Government

Type of Party: 

Individual

Location of Party: 

  • Oklahoma

Location of Party: 

  • Oklahoma
Description

Harold King runs the forum site "McAlester Watercooler," which he describes as a forum for citizens of McAlester, Oklahoma to "voice their views about the on-going City events." In August 2008, local District Attorney Jim Bob Miller filed an offense report with the McAlester Police Department against King.  Around that time, local businessman Wayne Stipe and his mother Billie Jean Stipe also filed a criminal complaint accusing King of slander and "imputing unchastity to females."  (In 2005, Stipe's uncle, Gene Stipe, filed criminal charges against King for defamation as well.)

It is unclear what specific statements Miller claims are defamatory.  According to press accounts, the offense report merely states: "Victim said the suspect is criminally libel for his comments and other people’s comments on the ‘mccooler.'"  Miller told the Oklahoman that he provided police with comment threads on the site about him from 10 dates since October 2007.

On August 12, 2008, the DA's office issued a subpoena to King, requiring him to produce identifying information, including social security numbers, for about 35 people who posted under pseudonyms on the site.

According to press reports, King filed an objection to the subpoena in district court on August 15, but stated that he gave police the identities of two bloggers — himself and another blogger who had previously given him permission to do so.  Police have indicated that they likely will not seek additional information from King.

Oklahoma has a criminal libel statute, making libel "punishable by imprisonment in the county jail not more than one (1) year, or by fine not exceeing One Thousand Dollars ($1,000.00), or both." 21 Okla. Stat. § 773. "Libel" is defined as "a false or malicious unprivileged publication by writing, printing, picture, or effigy or other fixed representation to the eye, which exposes any person to public hatred, contempt, ridicule or obloquy, or which tends to deprive him of public confidence, or to injure him in his occupation, or any malicious publication as aforesaid, designed to blacken or vilify the memory of one who is dead, and tending to scandalize his surviving relatives or friends." 21 Okla. Stat. § 771.

Update:

09/2008 - the case was moved to the District Court for Kay County.  Pittsburg County, where the case was filed, was the county overseen by District Attorney Miller.  Kay County District Attorney Mark Gibson took over the case for investigation.

09/2009 -  Oklahoma Attorney General Drew Edmondson’s office agreed to a deferred prosecution agreement with D.A. Miller on a charge of common barratry,” which is "the practice of exciting groundless judicial proceedings," Okla. Stat. tit. 21, § 550.  As part of the deferred prosecution agreement, Miller agreed not to seek re-election in 2010. Additionally, District Attorney Mark Gibson charged Wayne Stipe with assault and battery in connection with a physical altercation with King.

Details

Content Type: 

  • Text

Publication Medium: 

Forum

Subject Area: 

  • Defamation
  • Criminal
Court Information & Documents

Jurisdiction: 

  • Oklahoma

Source of Law: 

  • Oklahoma

Court Name: 

District Court of the Eighteenth Judicial District of the State Of Oklahoma, Pittsburg County; District Court of Kay County (moved from Pittsburg County)

Court Type: 

State

Case Number: 

MISC-2008-34

Relevant Documents: 

CMLP Information (Private)

Threat Source: 

MLRC