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Texas Woman Charged With Publishing Picture of Undercover Officer Found On His Facebook Page

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There is an interesting case out of Mesquite, Texas this week. Melissa Walthall, 30, has been arrested for allegedly posting a picture of an undercover officer in a narcotic case — a picture available on the officer’s Facebook page. Walthall was upset with the officer who testified against a friend in the case and found the picture on the Internet. She has been charged with “retaliation” even though she is not a party to the case and saw the officer in a public hearing. I have serious constitutional reservations about such a charge, even though I understand entirely the concern and anger of the police in a move that could endanger the officer.

 The officer elected to publish his picture in a public forum and court visitors are not subject to any gag order from the court. There is no account of the officer’s name or image being withheld from the public. The police found that the posting posed a “viable threat to that officer’s safety.” To make matters worse, the defendant George Pickens (shown right) has a brother, Bobby Stedham, who made garage signs that identified the officer and was reportedly planning to distribute them. Pickens has a record of prior drug and disorderly charges. 

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