State pays $25,000 over Senate president’s Facebook block

The Pueblo Chieftain: Senate President Leroy Garcia was ordered to pay a $25,000 judgement this month by a Denver district court judge for blocking critical comments from a Pueblo man on Garcia’s Facebook page.

The April 12 decision from Judge R. Brooke Jackson said Garcia was wrong to block a critical comment from Alexander Armijo on Garcia’s Facebook page. The judge said that was a violation of Armijo’s First Amendment rights of free speech.

Courts have ruled that when an elected official operates a social media site in an official capacity, it is much like a public town hall meeting where the public comments generally cannot be censored.

Andy McNulty, lawyer for Armijo, said the $25,000 judgement has already been paid by the state.

Garcia’s attorney, Ed Ramey, said that the Facebook page was related to Garcia’s Senate duties, so the bipartisan Legislative Legal Services Committee voted to pay for his attorney — and the judgement.

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