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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. I just wanted to point out that Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner, Senator Feinstein, former Senate majority leader Bill Frist, and former attorney general John Ashcroft are responsible for this rubbish. We need to keep a eye on these corrupt, arrogant, and incompetent fools.

  2. Well I guess our politicians have decided to give these idiot federal prosecutors unlimited power. Now if I guy bounces a fifty-dollar check, the U.S. attorney can intentionally wait for twenty-five years or so and have the check swabbed for DNA and file charges. These power hungry federal prosecutors now have unlimited power to mess with people. we can thank Wisconsin's Jim Sensenbrenner and Diane Feinstein, John Achcroft and Bill Frist for this one. Way to go, idiots.

  3. I wonder if the USSR had electronic voting machines that changed the ballot after it was cast? Oh well, at least we have a free media serving as vicious watchdog and exposing all of the rot in the system! (Insert rimshot)

  4. Jose, you are assuming those in power do not wish to be totalitarian. My experience has convinced me otherwise. Constitutionalists are nearly as rare as hens teeth among the powerbrokers "managing" us for The Glorious State. Oh, and your point is dead on, el correcta mundo. Keep the Founders’ (1791 & 1851) vision alive, my friend, even if most all others, and especially the ruling junta, chase only power and money (i.e. mammon)

  5. Hypocrisy in high places, absolute immunity handed out like Halloween treats (it is the stuff of which tyranny is made) and the belief that government agents are above the constitutions and cannot be held responsible for mere citizen is killing, perhaps has killed, The Republic. And yet those same power drunk statists just reel on down the hallway toward bureaucratic fascism.

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