Son of Sam (Law)

Date: 1993

Region: North America

Subject: Category:Legislation

Medium: Television,Literature

Producer Ronald W. Price

Confronting Bodies: Maryland State government

Dates of Action: August 1993

Location: Anne Arundel, MD

Description of Artwork: The life story of Ronald W. Price.

The Incident: On August 10,1993 an Anne Arundel County judge rejected a bid by Maryland Attorney General J. Joseph Curran, Jr.,to prevent former Anne Arundel teacher Ronald W. Price from profiting from the sale of his life story. Maryland's so-called Son of Sam Law, which Curran invoked in an effort to seize Price's potential profits from a movie deal, "is unconstitutional and unenforceable," Circuit Court Judge Eugene M. Lerner wrote. "We find that the statute is unconstitutionally over-inclusive on its face, and violates the provisions of the First Amendment, " Lerner said. Curran's office immediately appealed the decision to the state Court of Special Appeals. Price was arrested in April, 1993 and charged with three counts of child sexual abuse in connection with allegations that he had sexual relations with underage students at the high school where he taught. Since then, Price has said he had sexual relationships with seven students over twenty years and blamed his behavior on a mental illness. He said school officials knew about the illicit liaisons, but covered it up. The former teacher has signed an option giving a Hollywood producer the right to sell his story as a made-for-TV movie.

Results of Incident: The 1987 Maryland law at issue gives the attorney general the right to hold in escrow any proceeds from a movie or book contract in which a person charged or convicted of a crime is trying to profit from that crime. Under the law, if the person is convicted, the money is to be made available to the crime's victims. The law was struck down by the Court of Special Appeals.

Source: Office for Intellectual Freedom, American Library Association