Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Man charged with criminal libel

An AP story from Colorado reports:
FORT COLLINS, Colo. – A man accused of making unflattering online comments about his former lover and her attorney on Craigslist has been charged with two counts of criminal libel.

"It's not a charge you see a lot of," Larimer County District Attorney Larry Abrahamson said of the 1800s-era state law that can put people in jail for the content of their speech or writing.

Abrahamson charged J.P. Weichel, 40, of Loveland, in October over posts he allegedly made on Craigslist's "Rants and Rave" section.

The case began when a woman told Loveland police in December 2007 about postings made about her between November and December 2007. Court records show posts that suggested she traded sexual acts for legal services from her attorney and mentioned a visit from child services because of an injury to her child.
The stories in the local Colorado paper are here and here.

I figured that I was safe with this blog, because I don't make any out-of-court accusation. I mainly comment on public news stories, like this one, and on actual court documents and actions in my personal case. Nearly everything I say about my personal case can be verified from the court records.

I was wrong. I was prosecuted for quoting testimony from open court. It was not libel, because no one could dispute the truth of what I said. I was prosecuted for contempt of court by Commissioner Irwin H. Joseph.

Update: A law prof suggests that the criminal libel ought to be unconstitional here. There is now an LA Times article.

In my case, Cmr. Joseph initiated the case, and I tried to get him removed from the case, but he ruled on the case himself anyway. Yes, he acted as prosecutor and judge.

6 comments:

optimist said...

Seems to me this should be a no-brainer. The Judge (who represents the state) has lodged a complaint against you and now will hear evidence that will establish weather or not you are guilty of the offense in the complaint. And then he will make a decision as to your guilt with regard to his own complaint.

Shouldn't someone else adjudicate this?...since the judge can't realistically be impartial?

novemburd said...

Not quite....the commissioner in his case suggested to the ex-wife to bring a motion for contempt. Then basically said there were no facts to dispute, shutting AngryDad's defense down, and found AngryDad guilty already. Commissioner is holding back on sentencing, sort of holding it over AngryDad's head.

Anonymous said...

My theory is that Angry Dad is still bitter.

I'm betting that his ex wife married someone far better looking, more intelligent and ehem, a much bigger "man" than he is or could ever hope to be.

So to assauge his ego he is witholding from paying his fair share of child support and alimony.

What a bitter person......

Inspector Javert said...

"I'm betting that his ex wife married someone far better looking, more intelligent and ehem, a much bigger "man" than he is or could ever hope to be."

Really? Seriously, this is all the better you can do?

Really?

Anonymous said...

Are those poor, oppressed ladies back here again to show how equal they are? Pathetic.

Anonymous said...

I don't know if Bruce is the better looking or has a foot of man muscle. However, I do know that he sure is a fool. Who marries a women who cheats on her Man than raises someone else's offspring? Clean-up aisle 7. What a sucker he is.