Wednesday, October 22, 2008

I could still get jail

Three people attended my contempt trial yesterday. Two were friends of mine, and one was a reporter whom I had never met before. Cmr. Joseph confronted the reporter about having an audio recording device, and she identified herself as a reporter and admitted having a recording device. Cmr. Joseph mumbled something about her not having notified the court about recording. I don't know whether she recorded the hearing or not.

To my surprise, the three attendees were of the opinion that I would be sentenced to jail when Cmr. Joseph issues his opinion next week. I did not get an opportunity to present my case; the judge objected to most of my questions; I spent most of my time arguing with the judge; the judge said that my legal arguments were wrong; the evidence is on the website; and the judge had his mind made up. Or so they said. I thought that I argued for my innocence as best as I could.

The reporter even went so far as to say that I did a terrible job, and that I should hire a lawyer.

We will see. I could not deny what was posted to the website, and Cmr. Joseph was already committed to the position that I was in contempt of court for posting it. I did explain that it was entirely legal to do what I did. I expected to get sentenced to ten days in jail yesterday.

Now, I don't think so. Cmr. Joseph wanted to aggressively teach me a lesson, but he lost his nerve. At the end of the trial, he sheepishly declared that the matter hinged on a technical legal dispute that would require some further research.

I am not a lawyer. Is he really going to send me to jail for not knowing some legal fine point that he does not even know himself? I don't think so. That is not the purpose of contempt penalties. He can only find me in contempt of court if I intentionally violate some valid court order. He has now admitted that he does not even know whether his order was valid. And because he wasted most of the trial arguing with me, he does not have any evidence on the record that I violated the order anyway.

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