INDIANAPOLIS — Daniel Brewington was outraged by a southeast Indiana judge's handling of his divorce.Reason magazine writes:
So he logged on to the Internet and unleashed an unrelenting torrent of criticism.
The judge's actions that cut off contact with his children were unethical, illegal and tantamount to child abuse, Brewington wrote.
It was a theme he hammered home in hundreds of rants launched into cyberspace over more than two years.
They were strong words — statements authorities decided crossed the line from free speech into criminal behavior. Brewington was convicted in 2011 of intimidation of a judge, attempted obstruction of justice and perjury.
The Indiana Court of Appeals last month upheld the most serious of his convictions.
It is not clear to me that, as the appeals court claimed, Brewington's comments "went well beyond hyperbole and were capable of being proven true or false." As Brewington explained, he believed Humphrey's custody decision, which was coupled with restrictions on Brewington's visitation rights, was tantamount to child abuse. That claim and the accusations of "corrupt" or "unethical" behavior seem like expressions of opinion to me. In any case, the appeals court made it clear that for purposes of the intimidation charge it did not matter whether what Brewington said was true.The comments support free speech rights, except for this jerk:
Daniel Brewington is an idiot who deserves to lose custody of his children and talked his way into jail.Another comment answered:
The problem here is that he didn't understand what was happening and behaved like an unstable, emotionally uncontrolled ass. Worse, he neglected the kids in order to harry the judge.
The court system is very willing to review custody arrangements, particularly ones where one parent gets supervised visitation.
The secret to getting out of that purgatory is to behave stably, so that the judge says "hey, I see you're a standup guy, you deserve to see your kids." You stay calm, do nice things with your kids in front of the supervisor, and eventually the supervisors will happily testify as to how good you are with the kids.
The way to lose your kids is to behave unstably. And he set about doing just that. He posted nasty things online. He left the kids with his mom while he worked on his website and went out to wage his campaign away from the house.
And he didn't just post nasty things online. He tried to insert himself into the judge's life. IIRC, he went out of his way to join her health club. IIRC there was also some mess where he harassed the judge's husband at his place of work. Basically, he wanted to harass them, thinking they would give him what he wanted to make him go away.
It was the nasty things we wrote PLUS his attempts to involve himself in the life of the judge and her husband that constituted harassment.
Good luck getting this conviction over-turned. I think no appeals court is going to over-turn the finders' of fact conclusion that the pattern of interactions initiated by Daniel with the judge met the criteria for harassment.
Dan Brewington had a perfect 2 1/2 year record of caring for his girls during his divorce. There were no complaints during that time by anyone. During a 3 day divorce trial there was absolutely no mention of taking the girls away from Brewington because he might be a danger to the girls. Judge Humphrey left the girls with Brewington for another 2 1/2 months before issuing his ruling that Dan "might" be dangerous. Dan last saw his girls Aug. 18, 2009. The girls had not been away from either parent more than 4 days since they were born. The judge took away Dan's visitation which at the very least would assure that he would not see the girls for several months. Why shouldn't a man with a perfect record for parenting not "fight" back? He was not presented with a list of court approved therapists, so in theory, he could spend months just having hearings set up and then have his pick of a therapist denied. Oh, that is exactly what happened.I am afraid that others have this view that Dan deserves to lose his kids because he was willing to speak up against those trying to take his kids away. I have heard of many other cases where the dad quietly and stably does everything expected of him without criticism, and never gets any court benefit from it. I have also heard those dads attacked by people who say they deserve to lose their kids for being so passive.
I don't know where you get your "facts" but there was never any mention of a health club, Judge Humphrey is a he. His wife got 3 professionally written letters from family friends because she was listed as being on the Supreme Court Ethics and Professional Committee. The appellate court vacated that charge. Judge Humphrey used 2 little girls to punish their father. I'll let others decide if they think this could be child abuse.
Indiana Judge James D. Humphrey and psychologist Edward J. Connor were corrupt, dishonest, unethical, malicious, and vindictive. They chosen to punish Dan by punishing Dan's kids. That is obvious from the court record. If there were any justice, Humphrey and Connor would be the ones in prison. It is crazy to expect a man to be silent when scoundrels like these take his kids away for no good cause.
We are supposed to have our free speech guaranteed by the First Amendment. Canada has no free speech, causing this comment:
One has to remember that the United States once had a law protecting slaveholders from being exposed to hatred or redicule based on their peculiar form of property. It was illegal to send abolitionist literature through the mails.I did not know that, but restrictions on political criticism are never worthwhile. The Brewington prosecution is such a restriction.
Slaveholders were the paradigmatic example of the protected minority, and much of the minority-protection rhetoric we hear to day was first designed by slaveholders for the specific purpose of protecting slavery.
The San Francisco newspaper reports:
The dispute started when the judge in Brewington's divorce case ordered him to undergo a mental evaluation before considering giving him visitation rights to his children. A psychologist said he believed Brewington was potentially violent.No, Brewington's oppenents were the ones saying whether he was dangerous isn't the issue. He was convicted for what he said, not his psychological profile.
Brewington reacted by writing scathing attacks about the judge and psychologist in letters and online. Court documents said Brewington posted on Facebook "this is like playing with gas and fire, and anyone who has seen me with gas and fire knows that I am quite the accomplished pyromaniac."
Prosecutors also said Brewington threatened to beat up the psychologist who evaluated him, posted the judge's home address online and made remarks about the judge's wife.
"I think it's important to understand that this isn't just someone who's criticizing a judge," said Dearborn-Ohio County Prosecutor Aaron Negangard, who handled the criminal case. "Anyone who questioned him got harassed. Free speech does not give you the right to harass witnesses in the justice system."
Brewington's supporters say his comments were misread or taken out of context. But Negangard said Brewington used careful language to disguise actual threats.
Negangard said he recognized that much of what Brewington said was constitutionally protected, but "he crossed the line." But Brewington's supporters say whether he was dangerous isn't the issue.
"He's convicted for what he said, not because of what's in the divorce papers," Bopp said. "It goes beyond what was clearly over the top rhetoric as far as I'm concerned, but the First Amendment protects over-the-top criticism," he added.
This article is biased against Brewington, and against free speech. I guess I should expect that from a San Fran. newspaper. If Brewington crossed a line, just what was the line? Making remarks about the judge's wife?
The prosecutor said, "Free speech does not give you the right to harass witnesses in the justice system." But Brewington was not convicted of intimidating a witness. The jury did find him guilty of one count of threatening Connor, but that count was reversed on appeal. It seems clear to me that the prosecution is just revenge for criticizing the judge and psychologist.
The quote "this is like playing with gas and fire" is indeed out of context, as the article does not explain what Brewington was comparing to playing with gas and fire. He was probably referring to a legal battle. A military battle is violent, but a legal battle is not.
Update: Dan Brewington's blog rebuts some of the accusations. A revealing comment is:
Dearborn County Prosecutor F. Aaron Negangard said it best in this quote from the associated press: "But Negangard said Brewington used careful language to disguise actual threats."In other words, they cannot find an example of Dan making an actual threat. They can only find some figurative language that they claim is a disguised threat. Anything could be called a disguised threat.