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September 15, 2009

Blogger being prosecuted for threatening judges gets transfer and restricted bail

This new article from the National Law Journal, which is headlined "Blogger Charged With Threatening 7th Circuit Judges Gets Home Confinement," reports on the latest developments in a notable federal criminal case:

U.S. District Judge Donald Walter has ordered the release of Internet blogger and Web talk show host Hal Turner, who was arrested in June for declaring in an online posting that three Chicago-based federal judges "deserve to be killed."

Turner is on his way back to his home state of New Jersey after Walter decided in a Wednesday conference call meeting with lawyers that Turner could be released under "strict conditions," including a prohibition on his speaking to the media, home confinement and electronic monitoring, said Michael Oroczo, who represents Turner. He said his client was currently in the U.S. Marshal Service's custody in Oklahoma City as he's being transferred to New Jersey....

The release order by Walter, a U.S. district judge from Western Louisiana who was assigned the case to avoid potential bias, runs counter to a decision made last month by Chicago-based U.S. Magistrate Judge Martin Ashman, who found that Turner should remain in custody until his trial. It's not clear if a bond amount was set for the release.

Turner was charged by the U.S. Attorney's Office in Chicago with threatening to assault and murder three judges in retaliation for a June 2 decision they made. In a Web posting the same day, Turner called the 7th Circuit ruling, which declined to overturn laws banning handguns in Chicago and a nearby suburb, an "outrage" and said that the judges behind the decision "deserve to be killed." The judges who decided the case were Chief Judge Frank Easterbrook, Judge Richard Posner and Judge William Bauer. In a second posting on June 3, Turner provided the names, work addresses, phone numbers and photos of the judges.

Walter last week also allowed Turner's case to be transferred to the Eastern District of New York, granting his request for a change of venue from Chicago to Brooklyn. Walter granted the venue change partly because he agreed the defendant would have a harder time getting a fair trial in Chicago where there was significant media coverage of the 2005 murder of U.S. District Judge Joan Lefkow's mother and husband.

Turner said in his postings that federal judges in Chicago hadn't gotten "the hint" from those killings. "Memories are not so short as to erase the event from the public mind," Walter wrote in a Sept. 8 decision. "On balance, it is this court's opinion that granting the motion would best serve, not only justice, but the appearance of justice.

September 15, 2009 at 09:15 AM | Permalink

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From Brandenburg v. Ohio, 395 U.S. 444, 448 (1969).

"Freedoms of speech and press do not permit a State to forbid advocacy of the use of force or of law violation except where such advocacy is directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action and is likely to incite or produce such action."

How does that language allow that prosecution?

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Sep 15, 2009 10:07:56 AM

We're at war, SC. Freedom of speech against government officials doesn't exist anymore.

Posted by: Res ipsa | Sep 15, 2009 11:27:23 AM

So true. And that's because the only desire of people in this country who seize power is not to do good for the community but to immunize themselves from all abuses of power.

Posted by: Daniel | Sep 15, 2009 1:06:32 PM

"Walter granted the venue change partly because he agreed the defendant would have a harder time getting a fair trial in Chicago where there was significant media coverage of the 2005 murder of U.S. District Judge Joan Lefkow's mother and husband."

Ironic. The murderer was a paranoid schizophrenic who could not get relief in torts from the surgeon who implanted a radio in his teeth. The judge bent over backwards to accommodate his pro se complaint. You thank the Supreme Court for these murders. They held that only after a dangerous act could a mental patient be detained against his will. The standard prior to this lawyer takeover of psychiatry had been the presence of mental illness and the need for treatment. There were plenty of protections against abuse.

Had it been 1975, the judge could have had the plaintiff removed and taken to an emergency room for an examination and a two physician certificate about the need for treatment.

After 1976, he qualified for forced treatment only after killing the judge's innocent family. Thank the lawyer hierarchy for these murder. As a consolation, they did generate three lawyer jobs every time the person needs care, the prosecution, the defense, the administrative law judge in between.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Sep 15, 2009 10:22:01 PM

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