Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Imprisoned for his blog

Fellow angry dad Dan Brewington was convicted and sentenced to several years in prison, largely for what he wrote on his blog. He complains:
Following my criminal trial last October, I wrote a blog post explaining how Dearborn County Prosecutor F. Aaron Negangard proclaimed that Dearborn County Circuit Judge James D. Humphrey was a “son-of-a-bitch.” Prosecutor Negangard argued it was illegal for me to lie and call Judge Humphrey a child abuser. The prosecutor argued one could call Judge Humphrey a “son-of-a-bitch” but not a child abuser.
The judge could sue for libel if he is falsely called a child abuser. However such a suit would surely lose as the context of Dan's comments was clearly that he considers it child abuse to forcibly separate a father from his child. The judge clearly is a child abuser in that sense, as children are nearly always worse off when a judge does that.

Of course, Dan could be understating the case against him. To get the worst accusations, download the govt brief against him here. The main points are:

  • Dan posted the home address of the judge.

    Dan got the address from public real estate tax records. It is not a crime to post info that the county govt makes public.

  • Dan committed perjury by testifying that he did not know that Heidi Humphrey was Judge Humphrey's wife. Dan got Heidi's name from a web page that also had Judge Humphrey's name.

    This is no evidence. Even if the web page said that they lived at the same address, Heidi could have been the sister, mother, or daughter. Dan is unlikely to have known that Heidi is the wife from the web page.

  • After psychologist Edward Connor recommended sole legal child custody to Dan's wife, Dan demanded a copy of the evidence that Connor relied on. Besides letters and faxes, Dan filed court motions that inconvenienced Connor and Dan's wife.

    Dan should have had a right to see that evidence. Apparently the main issue was that Dan's wife submitted evidence of her being treated for various mental illnesses, including depression and OCD. Since that evidence went against Connor's recommendation, he feared that Dan would use it to support his legal argument for joint custody. As he should. He certainly ought to know if his child is being left in the care of a mentally ill women, and court parties should always see the evidence anyway.

  • Dan once called his wife a "crazy psycho bitch". Dan's wife would lock herself in the bathroom so she would not have to listen to him.

    She should like a crazy psycho bitch to me.

  • Dan accused Connor of "dishonest, malicious, and criminal behavior", and said to "please put your malpractice liability insurance carrier on notice". Connor felt intimidated. Dan sent an anonymous letter to Connor (that Connor recognized as being from Dan), and Dan threatened to hold Connor accountable for his sloppy work. Connor feared for his professional reputation, and found Dan's letters unsettling and disturbing.

    If Connor were being harassed or libeled, he could have sued Dan or applied for a TRO to stop the harassment. Connor did neither.

  • Dan showed up unexpectedly in a court hearing for another case, and listed to Connor's testimony.

    Nothing wrong with that. In real court cases, it is standard for the parties to demand that experts detail their testimony in other cases. It is normal to hear testimony in another case in order to get a handle on his biases.

  • Dan also identified and criticized Connor's wife. He also threatened that Connor's colleagues would be roped into litigation.

    Connor's wife is also a psychologist who participated in the court evaluation. She is also accountable for the evaluation. Besides, her name is Sarah Connor. I would be worried that she might send Terminator robots back from the future to kill me! (Just joking.)

  • Dan said on his blog that the evaluation made him so mad that he felt like punching Connor in the nose.

    This appears to be the only actual reference to a violent act. However the US Supreme Court has repeated ruled that this sort of comment is free speech, protected by the First Amendment, unless there is much more specific linkage to some criminal act being carried out.

  • Dan called Judge Humphrey dishonest and unethical. He mentioned the appeals court judges by name. Dan said he wanted to hold them accountable for doing mean things. Judge Humphrey got his personal gun repaired, and took various other precautions.

    I am not sure how this is any different from Republican congressmen saying that they want to hold the Attorney General account for lying about Operation Fast and Furious. All public officials ought to held accountable.

  • Dan said that he would not take down his blog, even if ordered by the court.

    Such an order would almost certainly be unconstitutional. In California, no one is obliged to obey an unconstitutional order. In most other states, you have to obey a court order until you get it declared unconstitutional. I don't know about Indiana, Dan's state.

  • The brief says, "The judge noted that Brewington's writings are similar to those of individuals who have committed horrendous crimes against their families."

    This is conviction by profiling. It is another way of saying that if you are unhappy with the court, then you better shut up about it, or you will be lumped in with criminals.

    Dan was mainly convicted of "intimidation". I can see where the judge and shrink would not like the web criticism, but that is life in the 21st century. These are truly evil men doing horrible things in an official govt capacity.

    I hate to say it, but the fix is in. Dan is going to prison for speaking out about his rights. He is a modern-day political prisoner. Judges close ranks to protect their own, even when they are making bad decisions. The prosecution brief convinces me that they are just as dishonest and corrupt as Dan says they are.

    Update: For an example of when you might have to obey an unconstitutional order until it is reversed, see Walker v. Birmingham, 388 US 307 - Supreme Court 1967. But there is an exception for “transparently invalid” court orders.

    Anonymous said...

    speaking of prisoners, what is your take on this:

    George said...

    The story http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2012/07/reiser-60million/ is about a $60M judgment today by the Russian kids against an American dad who is in prison for killing his Russian wife.

    I did have a comment on Hans Reiser back in 2007. I do not approve of manipulating kids into suing a father, but of course I do not approve of murder either.