Higher court overturns decision to jail Florida mom after Facebook post

Investigations

8 On Your Side Investigates is back on the case of the Florida mom jailed after a Facebook post. 

Jessie Weiner has been released nearly four months sooner than expected after an order by the Florida Second District Court of Appeal.

The order, dated May 6, states that the “trial court erred in entering the order finding the petitioner in contempt because it did not strictly comply with the procedural requirements of rule 3.840.”

The order highlights Florida Rule of Criminal Procedure 3.840(e), which states that if the contempt involves criticism of a judge, the “judge shall disqualify” herself.

Weiner’s Attorney Melissa Isaak said she filed a motion to have the judge disqualified but that didn’t happen until now. 

“That post did criticize the judge and there were other posts on Jessie’s page that did criticize the judge,” Isaak said.

The appeal court’s reasoning is not known because they have not yet released the opinion.

On April 2, Weiner, a mother of three, was taken into custody.

The incident stemmed from an ongoing family court case involving a child. 

Circuit Judge Lauralee Westine sentenced Weiner, who was not a party to the case, to five months for violating court orders.

She was set to be released in August. 

“I miss my family, you just kind of survive in here,” she said.

The trouble started with a post that showed up on Weiner’s Facebook page. 

In the post, sensitive family court documents concerning a child were released. The documents had to do with an ongoing family court case between Weiner’s husband and an ex. 

Even though Weiner was not a party to the case, the court took swift action.

Judge Westine explained her decision in court documents. 

On Nov. 6, the court had ordered that the sensitive documents be sealed. Those are the same documents that were posted on Weiner’s Facebook.

Isaak immediately appealed the decision. She said the court did not prove contempt beyond a reasonable doubt. 

8 On Your Side reached out to a court spokesperson but they are unable to comment on pending litigation.

Another judge will be assigned to Weiner’s case.  

Isaak will ask the court to dismiss this case.

8 On Your Side will continue to follow this developing story.

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