Brunswick police officer Barbara Hartman asked Magistrate Wallace Harrell on Thursday to issue one warrant charging the Rev. Ken Adkins with making false statements or writings and concealing facts from or submitting false documents to the government. She also asked Harrell to issue a “good behavior” warrant to compel Adkins to stop saying bad things about her on Facebook.
Hartman told Harrell that Adkins “has caused me severe grief” in questioning her integrity as an officer and a business owner. On Facebook, Adkins accused her of using her police powers to access his criminal history and had named her and her sign company in relationship to an internal affairs investigation, she told Harrell.
There is a precedent in the court going back to late August when Steven Morgan, another magistrate, ordered Adkins to rein in his own Facebook political vitriol against Glynn County school board member Venus Holmes and Glynn County Commission candidate Robbie Tucker.
Adkins, who was managing the campaigns of Tucker’s and Holmes’ Republican opponents, had called Holmes a fool and a runaway slave, and he referred to Tucker as a child molester. Morgan said Adkins had no proof of what he was saying and ordered him to stop.
Darlynne Rogers, who was running against Holmes, and Tashawnta Wells, who was running against Tucker, immediately dropped out of their races and asserted that Morgan had unfairly muzzled their campaign manager.
Adkins said all he had done in Tucker’s case was get his arrest records from the court, interpret it and put it on Facebook.
When it came to his own criminal record being posted on Facebook — Adkins spent time in prison in Florida — he cried foul. Adkins talks publicly about his criminal record but says he has turned his life around.
Adkins told Harrell he had suspicions that Hartman used her position as a police officer to access the National Crime Information Center to get his records and post the information on Facebook under the “rogue” account of Liberty Belle. Using the center for anything but official police business is illegal.
Adkins told Harrell that Hartman has a stake in Tucker’s race because he buys campaign signs from her.
He told Brunswick Police Chief Tobe Green of his suspicions and Green had an internal affairs investigation done, which ultimately cleared Hartman, he said in court.
He also said that he wrote down “what I believed’’ just as Green instructed.
Adkins told the Georgia Times-Union newspaper Thursday the internal affairs investigation didn’t provide any real answers. It just said the investigator couldn’t access the necessary information without a warrant, he said.
“They didn’t say it wasn’t done. They just haven’t told me who did it,’’ Adkins said.
Unlike Morgan before, Harrell wasn’t ready to rule on the Facebook postings.
There has been an effort to use good behavior warrants to prevent critical speech on Facebook, Harrell said.
Generally, good behavior warrants are issued only in cases to prevent people from harming or harassing others by direct contact, he said.
A person can be arrested for violating the conditions of a good behavior warrant, such as a judge’s order to stay away from someone.
Harrell said there are constitutional rights to free speech and that he intended to study that issue before ruling.
Meanwhile, Adkins said there could be a good side to a good behavior warrant preventing contact with Hartman.
“Does that mean she can’t stop me if I’m speeding?” he asked before Thursday’s hearing.