The Indiana Supreme Court Thursday affirmed multiple convictions of a southern Indiana man who threatened a judge through inflammatory posts on a blog.
In a case that drew national attention for its First Amendment implications, justices unanimously affirmed intimidation and obstruction of justice convictions in Daniel Brewington v. State of Indiana, 15S01-1405-CR-309.
“We therefore grant transfer and affirm Defendant’s convictions for intimidating the Judge and obstruction of justice as to the Doctor, finding the evidence sufficient to support those convictions under Indiana Code section 35-45-2-1(c)(1)-(3) without implicating constitutional free-speech protections. As to reversing Defendant’s intimidation convictions involving the Doctor and the Judge’s wife, and affirming his perjury conviction, we summarily affirm the Court of Appeals,” Justice Loretta Rush wrote.
At the center of the case are posts on family court blogs in which Daniel Brewington took aim at Dearborn Circuit Judge James Humphrey, who presided in his custody case. Brewington also was charged with intimidating Humphrey’s wife and a doctor involved in his custody case. The posts for which Brewington was prosecuted included comments that Humphrey was a child abuser for stripping Brewington of custody, and that Humphrey was playing with fire and Brewington was “an accomplished pyromaniac.”
Noted First Amendment scholar and UCLA Law Professor Eugene Volokh argued on behalf of a dozen amici who feared that if the Brewington verdict affirmed by the Court of Appeals stands, it would constitute a chilling effect on speech, opinions expressed in the media and political speech.
After almost two years in the Department of Correction, Brewington was freed Sept. 5, 2013.
These amici presented briefs on Brewington’s behalf: the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana, Eagle Forum, Hoosier State Press Association, Indianapolis Star, Indiana Association of Scholars, Indiana Coalition for Open Government, James Madison Center for Free Speech, NUVO Newsweekly, former IUPUI School of Journalism Dean James W. Brown and IUPUI professors Anthony Fargo and Sheila S. Kennedy.•
This story will be updated.