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Volokh to argue in Brewington before justices, partake in McKinney moot court

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One of the National Law Journal’s 100 Most Influential Lawyers in America will be before the Indiana Supreme Court this week to argue on behalf of a blogger convicted and sentenced for intimidating a Dearborn County judge who revoked the man’s joint custody of his children.

First Amendment scholar and UCLA law professor Eugene Volokh will take 10 minutes of 30 allocated for each side in Daniel Brewington v. State of Indiana, 15A01-1110-CR-550, Brewington’s attorney Michael K. Sutherlin confirmed Monday. The case is set for oral argument at 9 a.m. Thursday.

Volokh, who operates the widely read legal blog The Volokh Conspiracy, wrote an amicus brief joined by a range of free-speech, press, academic and activist organizations across the political spectrum. Volokh “is going to address simply the constitutional claims,” said Sutherlin, who will argue about mistakes Brewington contends were made.

“There are irregularities we would call prosecutorial misconduct,” along with problems in the conduct of the trial, Sutherlin said in describing the outlines of his arguments before the court.

The Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed a jury’s conviction of Brewington on a counts of intimidation against Dearborn Superior Judge James Humphrey, but reversed intimidation convictions against a custody evaluator and the judge’s wife.

After Humphrey granted sole custody of two daughters to Brewington’s ex-wife in 2009, Brewington made Internet posts calling Humphrey a child abuser, corrupt and unethical. He unleashed a torrent of angry blog posts aimed at Humphrey and the custody evaluator whose reports the judge relied upon to determine Brewington “to be irrational, dangerous and in need of significant counseling.”

The appeals court rejected Brewington’s argument that civil defamation law principles must be incorporated into Indiana Code 35-42-2-1(c)(6). The judges found the state was not required to provide evidence that Brewington’s public statements about Humphrey were knowingly false.

The COA opinion rallied First Amendment activists. Volokh wrote an amicus brief on behalf of a dozen parties that argues, “If the Court of Appeals opinion is allowed to stand, then much criticism of legislators, executive officials, judges, businesspeople, and others – whether by newspapers, advocacy groups, politicians or other citizens – would be punishable.”

While the case has taken on First Amendment implications, the state argues justices should affirm Brewington’s conviction.

“Brewington’s communications to and about the judge were truly threatening communications, conveying the threat that he would injure the judge or commit a crime against him,” the state’s brief in response to the petition to transfer states.

Brewington’s speech is unprotected, the state claims. “Brewington communicated ‘true threats’ to Judge Humphrey, although he cleverly attempted to disguise them.

“It is a disappointing irony that Brewington, who is no friend of free speech when it is spoken by his victims, now takes refuge in the First Amendment,” the brief says, noting the judge and custody evaluator have a right to perform their duties without fear of violent reprisal. “Brewington does not have the First Amendment right to place them in fear of such violent reprisals for their speech.”

Volokh is expected to dine with amici after he arrives in Indianapolis on Tuesday, Sutherlin said, and will take part in a moot court argument at 3:30 p.m. Tuesday at Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law, Sutherlin said.  
 
Meanwhile, Sutherlin said Brewington, who also was convicted of perjury and attempted obstruction of justice, was released Sept. 5 after serving just shy of two years in the Indiana Department of Correction.

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  1. On a related note, I offered the ICLU my cases against the BLE repeatedly, and sought their amici aid repeatedly as well. Crickets. Usually not even a response. I am guessing they do not do allegations of anti-Christian bias? No matter how glaring? I have posted on other links the amicus brief that did get filed (search this ezine, e.g., Kansas attorney), read the Thomas More Society brief to note what the ACLU ran from like vampires from garlic. An Examiner pledged to advance diversity and inclusion came right out on the record and demanded that I choose Man's law or God's law. I wonder, had I been asked to swear off Allah ... what result then, ICLU? Had I been found of bad character and fitness for advocating sexual deviance, what result then ICLU? Had I been lifetime banned for posting left of center statements denigrating the US Constitution, what result ICLU? Hey, we all know don't we? Rather Biased.

  2. It was mentioned in the article that there have been numerous CLE events to train attorneys on e-filing. I would like someone to provide a list of those events, because I have not seen any such events in east central Indiana, and since Hamilton County is one of the counties where e-filing is mandatory, one would expect some instruction in this area. Come on, people, give some instruction, not just applause!

  3. This law is troubling in two respects: First, why wasn't the law reviewed "with the intention of getting all the facts surrounding the legislation and its actual impact on the marketplace" BEFORE it was passed and signed? Seems a bit backwards to me (even acknowledging that this is the Indiana state legislature we're talking about. Second, what is it with the laws in this state that seem to create artificial monopolies in various industries? Besides this one, the other law that comes to mind is the legislation that governed the granting of licenses to firms that wanted to set up craft distilleries. The licensing was limited to only those entities that were already in the craft beer brewing business. Republicans in this state talk a big game when it comes to being "business friendly". They're friendly alright . . . to certain businesses.

  4. Gretchen, Asia, Roberto, Tonia, Shannon, Cheri, Nicholas, Sondra, Carey, Laura ... my heart breaks for you, reaching out in a forum in which you are ignored by a professional suffering through both compassion fatigue and the love of filthy lucre. Most if not all of you seek a warm blooded Hoosier attorney unafraid to take on the government and plead that government officials have acted unconstitutionally to try to save a family and/or rescue children in need and/or press individual rights against the Leviathan state. I know an attorney from Kansas who has taken such cases across the country, arguing before half of the federal courts of appeal and presenting cases to the US S.Ct. numerous times seeking cert. Unfortunately, due to his zeal for the constitutional rights of peasants and willingness to confront powerful government bureaucrats seemingly violating the same ... he was denied character and fitness certification to join the Indiana bar, even after he was cleared to sit for, and passed, both the bar exam and ethics exam. And was even admitted to the Indiana federal bar! NOW KNOW THIS .... you will face headwinds and difficulties in locating a zealously motivated Hoosier attorney to face off against powerful government agents who violate the constitution, for those who do so tend to end up as marginalized as Paul Odgen, who was driven from the profession. So beware, many are mere expensive lapdogs, the kind of breed who will gladly take a large retainer, but then fail to press against the status quo and powers that be when told to heel to. It is a common belief among some in Indiana that those attorneys who truly fight the power and rigorously confront corruption often end up, actually or metaphorically, in real life or at least as to their careers, as dead as the late, great Gary Welch. All of that said, I wish you the very best in finding a Hoosier attorney with a fighting spirit to press your rights as far as you can, for you do have rights against government actors, no matter what said actors may tell you otherwise. Attorneys outside the elitist camp are often better fighters that those owing the powers that be for their salaries, corner offices and end of year bonuses. So do not be afraid to retain a green horn or unconnected lawyer, many of them are fine men and woman who are yet untainted by the "unique" Hoosier system.

  5. I am not the John below. He is a journalist and talk show host who knows me through my years working in Kansas government. I did no ask John to post the note below ...

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