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ARGUMENT The State argues that trial evidence was sufficient to convict the Defendant of Harassment in Second Degree

and of Breach of the Peace in Second Degree. Further, that said convictions were not obtained in violation of the First Amendment of the United States Constitution, and that the Trial Court did not impermissibly shift the burden of proof to the Defendant in relation to establishing identity of the Facebook poster. The State’s position is untenable based on Trial evidence and applicable case law. Point 1: Evidence not sufficient to convict on Harassment or Breach of Peace a. Harassment in Second Degree Pursuant to C.G.S. §53a-183(a)(2), “[a] person is guilty of harassment in the second degree when … with intent to harass, annoy or alarm another person, he communicates with a person by telegraph or mail, by electronically transmitting a facsimile through connection with a telephone network, by computer network, as defined in section 53a-250, or by any other form of written communication, in a manner likely to cause annoyance or alarm.” To convict, the State must prove all elements, and identity, beyond a reasonable doubt. See State v. Marsala, 43 Conn.App. 527, 531 (1996). The State claims trial evidence linked the Defendant to “Tasha Moore,” the Facebook handle under which disparaging remarks about the victim were posted. Circumstantial trial evidence supporting this claim included: (1) Defendant’s access to the Brodys’ home, (2) Ms. Brody’s testimony that her friends, all of whom also had access to her home, were at high school graduation at the time of the postings, and (3) that the defendant admitted to mailing the Facebook materials posted, to Mr. Brody, the Victim’s father.

The sufficiency question is “whether the [trier of fact] could have reasonably concluded, upon the facts established and the reasonable inferences drawn therefrom, that the cumulative effect of the evidence was sufficient to justify the verdict of guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.” State v. Hersey, 78 Conn.App. 141, 167-68 (2003). However, inferences “which do not have a basis in facts established by the evidence cannot be drawn or relied upon to sustain a verdict” and the trier of fact “may not resort to speculation and conjecture.” Id., at 168, citing State v. Sivri, 231 Conn. 115, 131–32 (1994). Regarding identify, such facts are “not classically dependent upon circumstantial evidence for its proof.” State v. Farrar, 7 Conn.App. 149, 155 (1986). The Defendant did have periodic access to the Brody home, but others had similar access. The Victim testified that at the time of the posting, she was at a graduation ceremony with her classmates. This evidence does not exclude all friends that had access, but only “classmates.”1 Regarding other friends, the Victim testified that she “did not think that any of [her] friends had done it.” Tr. 3/22/13, at 19. Interestingly, trial evidence merely revealed that at some point, the Defendant possessed copies of pages that were posted on Facebook. Moving from Defendant to “Tasha Moore” involved assuming none of the Victim’s friends with access took the Victim’s personal notes. Simply put, it was based on Defendant’s access to the home, Ms. Brody’s speculation that none of her friends could have done it, and Defendant’s possession of copies of the some of the posted
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This is contrary to the State’s assertion that “all her friends and classmates” were present at the graduation. See State’s Br., at 19. While the State asserts the same, this fact was not proven at Trial, and the State’s gloss does not rescue the essential fact necessary to solidify its own logic—that “only” the Defendant had access, so she must be guilty.
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materials. Essentially, the State moves from conjecture to elimination. The Trier “may not resort to” this process in reaching its decision. See Hersey, at 167-68. Absent hard evidence that no other friends could have done the posting, the Victim’s testimony only established her opinion or belief that other friends could not be involved. “Where a group of facts are relied upon for proof of an element of the crime it is their cumulative impact that is to be weighed in deciding whether the standard of proof beyond a reasonable doubt has been met . . . but where it is only a single fact which is essential to prove an element, such evidence must support the inference of that fact beyond a reasonable doubt.” State v. Grant, 219 Conn. 596, 604–605 (1991) (emphasis added). Mere possession by the Defendant of copies of some of the posted material, hardly rises to proof beyond a reasonable doubt that the Defendant stole the originals and proceeded to post the same as “Tasha Moore.” The State also argues that the Defendant’s initial “lack of reaction” to Mr. Brody’s statements about the Facebook postings, and the “anonymous” letter she sent, could have been relied on by the Trier to establish the Defendant as culprit. This was her “guilty conscience” or “evasive action to avoid the detection of a crime.” See State’s Br., at 19-20. Silence in the face of an accusation, according to the State, makes the Defendant guilty. Our courts have long held that “although evidence of silence in the face of an accusation may be admissible under the ancient maxim that silence gives consent the inference of assent may be made only when no other explanation is consistent with silence.” State v. Leecan, 198 Conn. 517, 522–23 (1986) (emphasis added). More specifically, “when a statement, accusatory in nature, made in the presence and hearing of an accused, is not denied or explained by him, it may be

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received into evidence as an admission on his part.” State v. Daniels, 18 Conn.App. 134, 138 (1989). The State’s analysis and application, however, is misplaced; Mr. Brody’s statements to the Defendant were not accusatory, and they did not call for her denial or explanation. Likewise, there is abundant trial evidence consistent with silence in the context in which it arose; the Defendant is an investigative reporter, who explained she acquired the information from a “source” she could not reveal, given her obligation to keep journalistic sources confidential. An inference of “guilty conscience” made by the Trier in this case, would be wrong as a matter of law. Regarding “intent to harass, annoy or alarm,” the State argues that trial evidence proved Defendant intended to harass Ms. Brody with Facebook posts, and Mr. Brody with an anonymous mailing containing copies of Ms. Brody's personal notes. The State relies on such evidence as the posting of private written materials on Facebook, the Defendant’s alleged invitation of Ms. Brody’s friends to Tasha Moore’s Facebook page, and her anonymous mailing of copies of the Victim’s handwritten notes Mr. Brody. Posting private notes referred to by the State as “diary pages,” however, does not correlate with a specific Victim. Even assuming invitations went out to her friends2 the poster’s intent to harass Ms. Brody specifically, is not established. While others were “invited” to Facebook pages where they could view the posts,3 Ms. Brody’s testimony revealed that “friends” status permitted access to anything and everything “Tasha Moore” was posting. Tr. 3/22/13, at 22. Further, that “Tasha Moore” posted copies of her “diary pages” along with a picture that included Ms. Brody in which the
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The transcript reveals that only three such “friends” were identified. See Tr. 3/22/13, at 14-15. 3 See State’s Br., at 17.
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“wrong” person was “tagged.” Tr. 3/22/13, at 17. A correct “tagging” would have resulted in a notification being sent to her. Tr. 3/22/13, at 16. No evidence adduced confirmed she received such notification. The evidence at Trial simply did not reveal an “invitation” to specifically view the disparaging or other materials. The State further argues that the posted materials did not have to be directed to Ms. Brody; allowing others see them was sufficient to prove the Defendant’s intent to harass. The State relies on State v. Snyder for the proposition that direct communication between the perpetrator and the victim is not required to violate C.G.S.§53a-183(a)(2). See State v. Snyder, 40 Conn.App. 544 (1996). However, Snyder is clearly distinguishable; there, the Defendant communicated by mail with other persons “to cause numerous pieces of unsolicited mail and packages to be received by” the complainants in a manner likely to cause annoyance and alarm.” Id., at 549. The Defendant subscribed Victims to junk mail providers; the ultimate recipient is clearly the subject of the harassment. Contrariwise, Facebook posts attributed to the Defendant do not evidence conduct calculated to specifically reach an intended victim. “Tasha Moore” shared her Facebook posts with three people that knew Ms. Brody; she was never notified or “friended” directly. Unlike a subscription to a magazine that is virtually guaranteed to result in mail to the specific subscriber, Facebook posts are not guaranteed to reach their subjects—they are not necessarily ultimate recipients. The State’s argument would convert all gossip, into intentional harassment. The “intent” element also precipitates issues relating to Facebook functionalities. The Trier clearly was not familiar with Facebook. See Tr. 3/22/13, at 15. Nonetheless, the record is replete with Facebook nomenclature used by Ms. Brody, exhibiting

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specialized and technical aspects of the social media platform that required further explanation. She testified that Facebook profiles could have various privacy settings that restrict viewing. She saw the disparaging comments via another person who was “friended” with “Tasha Moore.” This alone raised the question of profile owner restrictions; if restricted, what evidence confirmed beyond a reasonable doubt that Ms. Brody was the intended victim ? There was no expert testimony offered which would educate the Trier as to privacy settings on Facebook. In fact, the sole source of guidance on the subject matter, was Ms. Brody’s impressions, or what she “thought,” “guessed,” or “understood; namely, her opinion as to the inner workings of Facebook. Interestingly, however, our courts have long held that “[a]s a general rule, a lay witness may not give opinion testimony and may testify only as to observed facts.” See State v. Watson, 50 Conn.App. 591, 600 (1998) citing Acampora v. Asselin, 179 Conn. 425, 427 (1980); see also, State v. McCulley, 5 Conn.App. 612, 616 (1985) (“The general rule is that witnesses must state facts and not their individual opinions and conclusions.”). Nonetheless, the State claims that quality or admissibility of the evidence is of no moment in this appeal, since the same was “admitted in full.” Again, however, the state ignores fundamental distinctions necessary for certain legal rules to apply. Here, the case was tried to the Bench, and not a Jury. Consequently, full admission is not an operative talisman. Our Supreme Court made it abundantly clear that “[i]n trials to the court, where admissible evidence encompasses an improper as well as a proper purpose, it is presumed that the court used it only for an admissible purpose.” State v. Ouellette, 190 Conn. 84, 92 (1983) (emphasis added). Her opinions on Facebook could be accepted to explain how she felt and what effect the posts had

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on her, but could not be (or at the very least are presumed not to be) used by the Trier to learn and understand how Facebook actually works. Without, such understanding the Trier of fact could not rationally and reasonably determine whether, in light of Facebook intricacies (which were admittedly not understood by the Court), the Defendant’s alleged use of the platform demonstrated an intention to harass Regarding the anonymous mailing to Mr. Brody, it tis noteworthy that it came after he attended the Police department initially with his daughter, and after he had learned of the postings. He knew of the Facebook postings well before he received the anonymous package; there is no other evidence adduced at Trial which explains how a subsequent mailing was intended to harass. The mailed materials also contained an exculpatory note obviating the lack of intent to cause distress, annoyance or alarm. The Defendant also lacked a motive to harass; in fact, doing so would be inconsistent with her own pecuniary interest; Mr. Brody supported her during their relationship. Breach of the Peace in Second Degree Pursuant to C.G.S. § 53a-181(a)(4), “[a] person is guilty of breach of the peace in the second degree when, with intent to cause inconvenience, annoyance or alarm, or recklessly creating a risk thereof, such person … publicly exhibits, distributes, posts up or advertises any offensive, indecent or abusive matter concerning any person.” Here, the only potential instance of public exhibition, distribution, posting or advertising of “any offensive, indecent or abusive matter concerning any person” was the Facebook page of Ms. Moore. The private, anonymous letter to Mr. Brody, was not a “public” posting. Thus, the relevant inquiry is whether or not the evidence was sufficient to

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prove that the Facebook posts were made by the Defendant and, if so, whether they constitute a violation of C.G.S. § 53a-181(a)(4). In reviewing a claim of sufficiency on appeal the relevant question is “whether the [trier of fact] could have reasonably concluded, upon the facts established and the reasonable inferences drawn therefrom, that the cumulative effect of the evidence was sufficient to justify the verdict of guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.” Hersey, at 167-68. Any inferences drawn by the trier of fact “which do not have a basis in facts established by the evidence cannot be drawn or relied upon to sustain a verdict” and the trier of fact “may not resort to speculation and conjecture.” Sivri, at 131–32. Additionally, proof of identity of the perpetrator is “not classically dependent upon circumstantial evidence for its proof.” Farrar, at 155. The State argues that evidence was sufficient to identify the Defendant as the poster of the disparaging remarks and diary of the victim on Facebook and, that said postings were in fact publicly displayed. Regarding, insufficiency of evidence to establish the identify of the Facebook poster, the Appellant relies upon the same facts and analysis set forth in Point 1a, supra. To convict, the element of publicity must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. Notably, the Victim did not stumble upon the posts; she had to be directed to them by a friend who was actually “friended” with “Tasha Moore.” The posts were accessible only to invited friends—three were identified. The balance of the evidence necessary for establishing the essential element of publicity emanated solely from Ms. Brody’s guessing and surmise. She could not, and did not, explain how pages on Facebook operate privately and/or publicity; only her lay opinion was offered. Crediting her

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testimony would contravene the general rule that “a lay witness may not give opinion testimony and may testify only as to observed facts.” Watson, at 600; see also, McCulley, at 616. On this score, the State once again argues that the fully admitted evidence obviates any need to address its quality or admissibility. However, in a Court Trial “where admissible evidence encompasses an improper as well as a proper purpose, it is presumed that the court used it only for an admissible purpose.” Ouellette, at 92. While Ms. Brody was competent to testify about what happened to her, how she used Facebook, or how the events affected her, she was not competent to testify objectively about how Facebook works. Thus, Ms. Brody’s testimony on the subject of publicity must, of necessity, not be used by the Trier to establish the element. The State argues that publicity of the forum is dependent on whether or not the defendant could reasonably expect the public to be present during the alleged misconduct. See State’s Br., at 27-28. The State then goes on to explain the inner workings of Facebook, complete with an account of how the Defendant could have enabled privacy settings. Id. According to the State, Ms. Brody’s testimony about how many friends (all whom were privately invited) saw the page, and the option of unexplained Facebook privacy settings which were supposedly not used by the Defendant, were sufficient to prove the publicity element. The only problem with this analysis, is that it does not come from evidence in the record, but from the imagination or experience of Counsel for the State in this Appeal.

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Point 2: Defendant’s convictions violate First Amendment of U.S. Constitution. a. Harassment in Second Degree Prior to October of 2013, Harassment in Second Degree was not a threatening language crime, and was predicated upon conduct only. See State v. Moulton, 120 Conn.App. 330, 345 (2010).4 At the time of Defendant’s conviction, content based prosecution implicated the First Amendment. Id. at 337. More specifically, C.G.S. § 53a-183 (a)(2) proscribed harassing conduct via mail and did “not seek to regulate the content of communications made by mail.” See State v. Murphy, 254 Conn. 561, 568 (2000). The Facebook post in the case at bar is unremarkable; it was effected in a manner identical to other postings. A post was made and some people were made “friends.” which meant that they could see what Tasha Moore was posting on her page. This was not a special invitation to view only the disparaging and private materials, as the State seems to imply. It was an invitation to view the entire Facebook page, and also to let “Tasha Moore” view the pages of her new “friends” in return. At trial, the actual methods of communication in this case were left unexplored. The State’s theory at trial (as exhibited by the evidence it led, and its arguments to the Court) was that the content of Facebook communications was so shocking and/or annoying that posting it constituted Harassment in the Second Degree. The State’s argument on appeal further
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The Appellant is aware that our Supreme Court recently overturned this legal precedent. See State v. Moulton, 310 Conn. 337, 362-63 (2013). However, the Court in Moulton, declined to give retroactive effect to this change in the law, explaining that “the defendant did not have fair warning that she could be prosecuted for a violation of § 53a–183 (a)(3) solely on the basis of the content of her speech” and consequently her conviction could not stand. Id., at 366. Thus this decision, which was issued after the Appellant’s conviction (on October 23, 2013), has no bearing on this appeal and her conviction should be examined in light of the legal precedent applicable at the time.
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focuses on the content of the postings. See State’s Br., at 16. To the extent the Trial Court was persuaded by such an argument, the Defendants conviction in this case implicates and contravenes constitutionally protected First Amendment rights. Similarly, mailing anonymously to Mr. Brody what was already seen or known by him, can hardly constitute harassment. b. Breach of the Peace in Second Degree Regarding C.G.S. § 53a-181(a)(4), the United States Supreme Court set limits on the type of conduct permissibly punishable by this statute, stating that it addresses “conduct destroying or menacing public order and tranquility… [including] acts and words likely to produce violence in others” but cannot be used to “unduly suppress free communication of views, religious or other, under the guise of conserving desirable conditions.” Cantwell v. State of Connecticut, 310 U.S. 296, 308 (1940). Our own courts interpretation requires words or conduct of the kind that does not merely “offend” someone, but must give rise to an “immediate threat to public safety, peace, or order” not to run afoul of the First Amendment. For example, our Supreme Court has addressed this issue by putting an “interpretive gloss” on the mens rea language of the statute requiring""the trier of fact must determine, beyond reasonable doubt, that the defendant’s “predominant intent is to cause what a reasonable person operating under contemporary community standards would consider a disturbance to or impediment of a lawful activity, a deep feeling of vexation or provocation, or a feeling of anxiety prompted by threatened danger or harm.” State v. Wolff, 237 Conn. 633, 669-70 (1996).

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The evidence at trial did not show in any way that Ms. Brody or Mr. Brody were in any way induced to act violently or had any effect on public tranquility or order. Though Ms. Brody did testify that she didn’t feel like going out with her friends after seeing the posts, it has not been established that the poster’s “predominant intent” was to accomplish this. Id. There was no evidence that Ms. Brody and Mr. Brody expected any further danger or harm as a result of the posts or the mailing that brought about additional anxiety. In the present case, the evidence simply does not “support a conclusion that the expression used was intended or likely to produce imminent disorder” and consequently “the breach of the peace conviction cannot stand.” State v. Hoskins, 35 Conn.Supp. 587, 594 (1978). Moreover, the record reveals that the Court, as a trier of fact, applied the wrong standard in arriving at this conviction. The Court only required proof of “intent to cause inconvenience, annoyance or alarm” to convict the Defendant on the charge of breach of the peace. See Tr. 3/22/13, at 130. The constitutionally required “interpretive gloss” was not applied. The State focuses on the language and content of the postings and mailed materials as obscene, and therefore unworthy of First Amendment protection. “Obscenity” is being interjected into this case for the first time on appeal. This is not the first time that the State tried to fall back on “obscenity” after the fact. See State v. LaFontaine, 128 Conn.App. 546 (2011). In LaFontaine, the State argued on appeal that defendant's first amendment rights in a prosecution for a harassing telephone communication “amounted to a constitutionally unprotected ‘true threat’.. [or] that the language may have amounted to constitutionally unprotected obscenity.” Id, at 556, n.5. This Court found these arguments unpersuasive “given that the state did not

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prosecute the case under either of the two criminal threatening statutes, General Statutes §§ 53a–61aa and 53a–62, or the criminal obscenity statutes, General Statutes § 53a–193 et seq.” Id. Similarly, the Defendant in this case was not prosecuted under the criminal obscenity statutes. Neither was she prosecuted under C.G.S.§53a181(a)(5) which prohibits using “abusive or obscene language” in a public place. She was prosecuted under C.G.S.§53a-181(a)(4) which is silent as to “obscenity.” Furthermore, as discussed supra, the trier of fact in this case did not apply the indecency or the obscenity approach to this case, but rather explicitly stated that “count two [Breach of the Peace] requires an intent to cause inconvenience, annoyance or alarm.” Tr. 3/22/13, at 131. Moreover, the State’s argument misses the entire point. The question is not whether or not the Defendant engaged in constitutionally protected speech, but rather whether or not her conviction under C.G.S.§53a-181(a)(4) amounts to an unconstitutional application of said statute to her case. The law is clear, in order to avoid infringing on the defendant’s First Amendment rights, the trier of fact must find, beyond reasonable doubt, that the defendant’s “predominant intent is to cause what a reasonable person operating under contemporary community standards would consider a disturbance to or impediment of a lawful activity, a deep feeling of vexation or provocation, or a feeling of anxiety prompted by threatened danger or harm.” Wolff, at 670. There is no special carve out for obscenity. For instance, when dealing with a conviction under C.G.S.§53a-181(a)(5) (which speaks directly of obscene language), this Court held that the statue “proscribes fighting words that tend to induce immediate violence by the person or persons to whom the words are uttered because of their raw effect.” State v. Caracoglia, 78 Conn.App. 98, 110 (2003).

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The State further argues that the Defendant merely assumes that the court applied the wrong standard to the element of intent in this case, and relies on Rosenblit v. Danaher for support to its argument. See Rosenblit v. Danaher, 206 Conn. 125 (1988). However, Rosenblit does nothing to support the State’s position. Presumption of no error is not unqualified; “it is presumed, unless the contrary appears, that judicial acts and duties have been duly and regularly performed.” Id., at 134 (emphasis added). The record here speaks for itself; the Court explicitly stated that Breach of Peace “requires an intent to cause inconvenience, annoyance or alarm.” Tr. 3/22/13, at 131. It did not include the interpretive gloss, and it certainly did not include obscene language in its definition. c. Journalistic Privilege and Burden Shifting The State argues that the Trial court did not shift the burden as to identify of the poster, and therefore did not infringe upon journalist privilege. Also, that the evidence was sufficient to prove the identity of the poster, without any need to shift the burden, and that journalist’s privilege does not exist in the context of criminal proceedings. Regarding the sufficiency of the evidence argument, the Appellant relies on her arguments in Point 1a supra. Additionally, the Trial court’s inquiry as to “[w]hat other evidence is there to suggest anyone else other than Ms. Buhl had access to those [diary] pages”5 is indicative of the mindset of the Trier of fact throughout the Trial. That is, the Trier was expecting the Defendant to prove that someone other than her posted the materials on Facebook. These words should not be construed as idle questions, especially in the light of the cautionary instructions of our Supreme Court that “[a]
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5

Tr. 3/22/13, at 113.
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judge, trying the cause without a jury, should be careful to refrain from any statement or attitude which would tend to deny the defendant a fair trial.” State v. Gionfriddo, 154 Conn. 90, 97 (1966). The State’s claim that journalist’s privilege is absent in criminal proceedings is simply false. The State relies on Branzburg v. Hayes, 408 U.S. 665 (1972). However, the Supreme Court in Branzburg expressly limited its decision to the narrow issue of “whether requiring newsmen to appear and testify before state or federal grand juries abridges the freedom of speech.” Id. at 667.6 Here, the Defendant was not merely subpoenaed to testify before the grand jury, but was put on trial. Her identity as a perpetrator was linked directly to her interactions with her confidential source, and a choice not to reveal the same. Not being able to prove “who else” could have done it, she was convicted. This is a far greater infringement on a journalist than merely having to testify before a grand jury, and is a far greater interference in “the process of newsgathering” which is “a protected right under the First Amendment, albeit a qualified one… [that] emanates from the strong public policy supporting the unfettered communication of information by the journalist to the public.” Von Bulow by Auersperg v. Von Bulow, 811 F.2d 136, 142 (2d Cir. 1987).

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"The State also relies on a Fourth Circuit interpretation of Branzburg, holding that “[t]here is no First Amendment testimonial privilege, absolute or qualified, that protects a reporter from being compelled to testify by the prosecution or the defense in criminal proceedings about criminal conduct that the reporter personally witnessed or participated in, absent a showing of bad faith, harassment, or other such non-legitimate motive, even though the reporter promised confidentiality to his source.” U.S. v. Sterling, 724 F.3d 482, 492 (4th Cir., 2013). However, like in Branzburg, the Court in Sterling was dealing exclusively with compulsion to testify before a grand jury. Id., at 491. Moreover, the Fourth Circuit’s interpretation in this case is not binding on this court as it does not reflect our state law or the law of the Second Circuit. """"

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