John Caylor, an internet investigative reporter and blogger on the lam from Daphne officials for publishing a local attorney’s expunged court records, was released Tuesday after spending more than three weeks in jail in Bay County, Florida, for an outstanding warrant for probation violation.
Caylor made news as the first, and so far only, person to be arrested under a 2014 Alabama law that criminalized publication of expunged criminal records. The law, which many regard as an unconstitutional prior restraint, made publication of such records a Class B misdemeanor.
Caylor turned himself over to Daphne Police March 30, 2016, after Scott Smith III, a clerk for U.S. District Court Judge Ginny Granade, filed a complaint against him for violating the law. Caylor had published records pertaining to Smith’s arrest and pretrial diversion in Dothan 14 years ago for alleged possession of meth. Smith has also filed a civil suit against Caylor and unnamed defendants. The case was immediately sealed by Circuit Court Judge Joseph Norton, so Lagniappe has been unable to read the basis of Smith’s suit.
Members of the Alabama Legislature have told this newspaper efforts will be made to remove the unconstitutional prior restraint parts of the expunged records law when this year’s session starts.
The morning after a May 3 evening hearing where Daphne Judge Michael Hoyt ordered Caylor to remove Smith’s records, Smith filed another complaint against Caylor claiming the records had not been removed. Though the records could not be found on the site, insider-magazine.com, after mid-morning, Hoyt issued another arrest warrant and Caylor fled to Florida.
On the morning of Dec. 16, Caylor says he was arrested by Bay County sheriff’s deputies on a warrant regarding his failure to report for probation after being convicted on a misdemeanor in 2006. Caylor says that conviction was for disorderly conduct in the county courthouse when he was unable to obtain public records he’d requested regarding the death of Martin Lee Anderson at the county’s juvenile boot camp.
Caylor says he spent time in the hospital and in the county jail while under arrest, and that in the meantime his website was ordered shut down and he was evicted from his apartment. He faces a Feb. 1 court date in Bay County.
Papers dumped in Baldwin
Baldwin County Commissioners are apparently looking into an incident in which several dozen full bundles of Press-Register newspapers were found dumped roadside last week.
According to a report in The Baldwin Times, county officials are trying to get to the bottom of who dumped dozens of bundles of papers were dumped on the right-of-way along Old Brady Road. The story says some of the bundles were still wrapped in the plastic generally used by printers to secure newspapers after they come off the presses.
Commissioner Tucker Dorsey told the Times the county’s solid waste department had opened an investigation into the illegal dumping.