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Justices look to set arguments in Rockport, blogger’s intimidation cases

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The Indiana Supreme Court may hold arguments in September on the case involving the controversial Rockport coal gasification plant as well as on the case of a Dearborn County man who was convicted of intimidation of a judge based on online rants.

The arguments in Daniel Brewington v. State of Indiana, 15A01-1110-CR-550, are to decide whether the justices should take the case. Justices granted transfer to the Rockport case, Indiana Gas Company, et al. v. Indiana Regulatory Commission, 93S02-1306-EX-00407, on June 6.

Supreme Court Public Information Office Kathryn Dolan said the Supreme Court Administration office is working on setting arguments in both cases, potentially for September. She noted that justices have not officially granted transfer to Brewington.

Transfer to the Supreme Court in the Rockport plant case was expected after the Indiana General Assembly deferred to the Indiana Supreme Court in Senate Enrolled Act 494. The legislation came after the Indiana Court of Appeals reversed an Indiana Regulatory Commission order approving a contract that would have funded the Rockport plant with guaranteed prices above current market rates for the substitute natural gas it would create.

The Brewington case has garnered attention on First Amendment issues. Daniel Brewington was originally convicted of intimidation on claims he threatened Dearborn Circuit Judge James Humphrey, Humphrey’s wife and a custody evaluator working in Brewington’s divorce case. But the Court of Appeals in January only upheld the intimidation conviction related to the judge.

Amicus parties to the case argue that if that conviction stands, some criticism of legislators, judges and others – whether by newspapers, advocacy groups or other citizens, would be punishable.

Brewington wrote numerous online rants on his blog after Humphrey’s 2009 order that separated him from his children, including saying that a judge who would do that was a child abuser.

The state maintains that Brewington’s speech isn’t protected because his communications were truly threatening to the judge.
 

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