In the Land of the Free it is ok to use the world wide wibble to scare the hell out of juries, a US Judge has decided.
According to Wired, Neo-Nazi William A. White had been found guilty of jury intimidation after he posted the name, address, picture and telephone numbers of one of the jurors who convicted white supremacist Matthew Hale.
Hale was appealing his 480-month prison term for soliciting the murder of a federal judge.
The Jury thought that the obvious implication of this act was to arrange for the Jury foreman to be beaten up, or at least be scared by people who were Hale’s supporters.
The sub-heading added: “Gay Jewish Anti-Racist Led Jury”just in case you missed the theme of White’s post.
However, White was released from custody this week after a federal judge reversed his conviction.
White was the operator of Overthrow.com, a charming website which was affiliated with the white-supremacist American National Socialist Workers Party.
U.S. District Judge Lynn Adelman wrote that the article failed to specifically mention physical force to be used against the juror.
Writing something that is nasty and untrue was fully enshrined by the First Amendment. After all that is how Paul Revere got his start.
Adelman said that no reasonable factfinder considering the posts and the context in which they were made could conclude a call to violence.
Although we are talking about neo-nazis here who are not known for being reasonable.
The former jury foreman testified that he began receiving text messages after White posted his information. The texts, he testified, said things like “sodomize Obama, Bomb China, kill McCain, cremated Jews, all these really upsetting things.”
However he admitted that none of the texts threatened his life or said, “I’m coming to get you”, which the Judge took to mean that no “reasonable person” had seen a call to arms in White’s comments.
In the UK he would have been banged up as threats are seen as a form of violence and intimidation, but it seems that the US still has a “names can never hurt me” approach to fear.
His case also said that if he had been arrested then the US government should bang up Sarah Palin.
Her website had a suggested hitlist of 20 politicians targeted with rifle sights dotted on a map.
One of these was Gabrielle Giffords, the Arizona representative who was shot in January. The sarahpac.com site said, “Let’s take back the 20, together.”