Vernon Jones, a former Democratic state representative-turned Trump Republican, has been ordered by a federal judge to pay $45,000 to a man he blocked on Facebook, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Jones blocked Tomas Miko, a DeKalb County resident from Georgia, from his social media page after they swapped political opinions online in March 2020 while Jones was serving in the state legislature.
After the testy exchange, which the outlet says included comments on proposed immigration legislation sponsored by the former state lawmaker, Jones deleted Miko’s contrary posts.
A few months later, Miko filed a federal lawsuit against Jones, alleging Jones deleted his comments to silence his criticism. U.S. District Judge Steven Grimberg stated that when public figures block constituents from their social media profiles to stop them from expressing conflicting opinions, that constitutes “viewpoint discrimination.” The judge also found that Miko’s claims were enough to prove liability and issued a judgement against Jones, who did not respond to the lawsuit.
Miko was awarded $8000 in compensatory damages on Tuesday, which Grimberg said “is sufficent to deter Jones and other public officials from engaging in similar misconduct.” Jones was also ordered to pay $37,652 in costs and legal fees to Miko’s attorneys.
Last year, Jones, who echoed former president Donald Trump’s false claims of election fraud and had his endorsement in the 2022 midterm elections, was defeated spectacularly by Mike Collins, suffering a nearly 50-point loss.