Brett Kimberlin and Aaron Worthing: Censorship And Retaliation Through Lawfare

Law

Despite what you believe, you can be imprisoned in America for writing about public controversies. Aaron Walker — who until recently blogged as Aaron Worthing — found that out today.

I first wrote about Aaron when I sent out the Popehat Signal seeking pro bono help for him in Maryland in connection with his disputes with convicted bomber and perjurer Brett Kimberlin. Much more recently, I wrote about him when he revealed how Kimberlin had pursued him in retaliation for his writing, including making a demonstrably false criminal accusation against him.

After Aaron temporarily prevailed over Kimberlin and told his story, Kimberlin sought, and obtained, a new "peace order" (Maryland law-speak for a restraining order) against Aaron, trying to portray Aaron's protected expression as harassment and threats.

Today Aaron showed up in court in connection with that order, and was taken into custody for violating it — apparently on the grounds that by blogging about Kimberlin's behavior, he had violated the peace order.

Robert Stacy McCain is collecting reports about what happened. I'd caution that oral reports about what happened in court are notoriously unreliable, and I won't feel completely confident that I know exactly what happened until I read a transcript or hear it from a non-party lawyer I trust who was present. McCain's sources assert that Judge C.J. Vaughey was upset with Aaron, that Kimberlin claimed he received death threats as a result of Aaron's blogging, and that the judge concluded that Aaron violated the peace order by blogging. I'll update here with more sources as I see them. [If anyone has information on how to order transcripts in this particular court, please let me know.]

McCain provides links to a fund previously set up to assist Aaron after the havoc Kimberlin wreaked on him. I understand more assistance efforts are in the works; I will link them as I hear of them.

I work with words for a living. But I have no words, yet, for how outrageous and despicable this is.

For now, I offer only a series of preliminary observations:

1. This is about everybody's rights, not just the rights and interests of "conservatives" or any other political group. We need to transcend partisanship over this — conservatives need to transcend it because making this partisan will marginalize the situation, and liberals and others need to transcend it because this could happen to then.

2. In that vein: don't like the figures involved? Get the fuck over it, or don't pretend to be serious about free expression any more. This could happen to you. It could happen in a context utterly unrelated to politics as you understand them. Brett Kimberlin is a remorseless and amoral psycho whose crazy is currently being expressed (and joined by others) along ideological lines, but he could just as easily be doing the same things under any other flag. Crazy stalking can happen to anyone for any reason. It could happen to you because you write about politics, or law, or movies, or comic books, or a zoning dispute in your neighborhood. So if you write this off because of whose ox is being gored this time, and who seems to care, you're a fool. People who have read this blog for a while know me well enough to understand that I hold little in common with McCain, or Malkin, or even Patterico, all of whom have written about this. That's irrelevant.

3. Aaron's arrest illustrates how well lawfare can work and how dangerous unprincipled rubber-stamping of protective orders can be. Imagine it: you write something about a dispute. Someone involved in that dispute goes to court in another state and accuses you of harassment and gets a "peace order" against you. That person claims that your writing is threatening, that it has led to threats, or that it constitutes persistent harassment. If you are very lucky, the judge denies the application because it is too vague, or because it seems to complain about protected speech — but if you are unlucky, the judge rubber-stamps it without even demanding to see the allegedly offending posts. (Note that here Kimberlin characterized Aaron's posts, rather than submitting them all.) Now you've got a vague order against you forbidding you from contacting or harassing the "victim." But what does that mean? Surely, you tell yourself, under a century of America's First Amendment heritage, it doesn't mean I can't write a blog post discussing the dispute and explaining why the peace order application is made by a convicted perjurer and notorious domestic terrorist. Well — maybe. Or maybe not. Again, it depends upon your luck with the judge. Here, based at least on initial reports, it appears that the court construed Aaron's blog as a violation of the peace order. I've read all of Aaron's posts on the subject, and none satisfy any principled or constitutional definition of unlawful harassment. None of them incited lawless behavior. If, as reports indicate, the judge jailed Aaron based on those posts, the judge did so lawlessly because Aaron violated a vague and ambiguous prior restraint on protected speech.

4. Kimberlin's success in this regard will embolden other practitioners of lawfare, and allow them to chill and deter speech they don't like. Consider Aaron's dilemma upon being informed of the new and overtly bogus peace order: was he to cease speaking on an issue of public interest regarding a public figure, or was he to spend money on a lawyer to try to get the order lifted? Now imagine lawfare practitioners demanding such protective orders in multiple jurisdictions far from the writer. Imagine the costs and legal risks, and ask yourself how many people will be willing to incur them.

5. I don't agree with Aaron on a whole lot, but I like him. So I regret saying this: he acted like an utter fool when he went to court today without counsel. Don't go to court without counsel. Sure, it might go like it goes in the movies. Or, more likely, you'll get eaten alive. (This does not go less for people who are lawyers themselves. It goes double for people who are lawyers themselves.)

6. Kimberlin claims, and the judge apparently accepted, that he received death threats as a result of Aaron's blog posts. I have no faith in the word of a crazed and amoral convicted perjurer, but it wouldn't surprise me. The internet is full of jackasses, and many of them feel very strongly about politics. But a blogger can't be held responsible for how trolls and assholes and the easily agitated react to a discussion of a public controversy. The old and familiar standard should govern: was the speech likely to create, and was it intended to create, a clear and present danger of imminent lawless action? Nothing Aaron wrote comes close to satisfying this standard. That said — if you are the sort of person who reacts to a story like this by sending anonymous threats, you are part of the problem — you are a useful idiot for censors, and part of the reason that Aaron is in jail. For that matter, if you're the sort of juvenile twerp who leaves "jokey" comments about violence, you're part of the problem too. Grow up, fool.

7. I've heard people suggest that citizens should write or call the judge. That might be an exercise of First Amendment rights. It's also useless and, practically speaking, likely to make life more difficult for Aaron. If you want to write, and you want to help rather than just vent your spleen, write a blog post, or a letter to the editor, or a letter to local or federal authorities. If you write angry screeds to the judge you aren't helping.

It's a very busy week, but I will try to write more as the situation develops. Today is a setback for freedom of expression and a victory for sociopathy and the abuse of the legal system for crass political ends. But it is not over. Not by far. It's time to pull in some First Amendment heavy hitters to assist. It's time to get more attention to the situation, and inflict the Streisand Effect even more than Blog About Brett Kimberlin Day already did. It's time to fight.

First edit: Here is a first-hand account, though because it's not by a practitioner, it's difficult to determine exactly what happened. It certainly seems to confirm that Aaron shouldn't have gone unrepresented. It might suggest that he was actually jailed for contempt during the hearing, not for violating the peace order, though I'd want confirmation on that. It does seem to confirm an unconstitutionally broad prohibition against writing, as well as the difficulties presented by judges who don't understand the technology at issue.

Second edit: Apparently I'm left-leaning. That would be a surprise to people who read my nanny-state stuff. Oh well. Visitors, welcome. At Popehat, in addition to talking about law, the pending zombie apocalypse, and games, we talk about free speech a lot. You can see it on our free speech tab. Or read about how an interest in free speech could have had me balls-deep in dreamcatchers and macrame. Or check out 2011's censorious asshat of the year awards. But be careful. You'll also be exposed to stuff about abuses of government power that don't involve taxes or regulations.

Third edit: Via Eugene Volokh, a suggestion that Aaron was actually arrested on the transparently bogus assault charges that Kimberlin had earlier sought. "Fog of war" indeed. Note the discussion of the constitutionality of the scope of the six-month "peace order."

Fourth edit: McCain now reporting that Aaron was charged with "incitement."

At the end, the judge said, “All I’ve learned here is one guy hides behind the sheets while the other guy suffers. I don’t care what (Kimberlin’s) background is. A prostitute can also be raped. He’s an individual, he’s entitled to his own privacy and can’t be threatened. What I didn’t like is these death threats that are coming and his children are reading it. That is nasty and wrong.”

The judge signed off on the peace order, which means that Walker can’t say one word about Kimberlin for six months.

“I find that this is worse than harassment. It’s a nasty, dirty thing to do to somebody … you’ve got people all over writing these things. He’s got 54 pages that he says come directly from you, and he’s got volumes of people who are doing it.”

A six-month injunction against any writing about Kimberlin under these circumstances is freakishly unconstitutional and patently lawless.

Fifth edit: This is a very good account of the hearing from an eyewitness. Though it doesn't clarify the reason for the arrest, it does shed light on the judge's thinking:

At the end, the judge said, “All I’ve learned here is one guy hides behind the sheets while the other guy suffers. I don’t care what (Kimberlin’s) background is. A prostitute can also be raped. He’s an individual, he’s entitled to his own privacy and can’t be threatened. What I didn’t like is these death threats that are coming and his children are reading it. That is nasty and wrong.”

The judge signed off on the peace order, which means that Walker can’t say one word about Kimberlin for six months.

“I find that this is worse than harassment. It’s a nasty, dirty thing to do to somebody … you’ve got people all over writing these things. He’s got 54 pages that he says come directly from you, and he’s got volumes of people who are doing it.”

A six-month injunction against discussing Kimberlin under these circumstances is — well, it's lawless. It's freakishly unconstitutional.

Note also Patterico's summary. He notes the language of what appears to be the Court's written order:

That there is clear and convincing evidence that within 30 days before the filing of the Petition, [Walker] committed the following act(s):
Placed [Kimberlin] in fear of imminent serious bodily harm: COUNTLESS NUMBER OF BLOGS EITHER THREATENING DEATH [sic]

Call me crazy, but in the United States of America, under our heritage of due process and freedom of expression, I don't think it's too much to ask a Court to provide a coherent, grammatical sentence justifying six months of prior restraint of political comment on a public figure.

As multiple commentators suggest, this judge seems to have no grasp whatsoever of the technology involved. Now, judges have to rule on cases touching on unfamiliar technology all the time. But a judge has no business restricting rights based on technology he doesn't understand and knows he doesn't understand. In such circumstances, even minimal responsibility and professionalism requires a judge to say, "I'm sorry, I can't rule on this until you educate me — or I educate myself — on the technology enough to understand what is going on." This judge didn't. That's a violation of his oath to uphold the constitution.

Last 5 posts by Ken White

102 Comments

80 Comments

  1. perlhaqr  •  May 29, 2012 @11:54 am

    Wow, that's completely fucked.

    I hope that Aaron is swiftly released. This is really egregious. Sadly, not surprising, but completely egregious.

  2. ElamBend  •  May 29, 2012 @12:01 pm

    No. 5 with a bullet. When I first heard about the court appearance my thoughts were to what his attorney was thinking. He wasn't.

  3. SPQR  •  May 29, 2012 @12:03 pm

    It also sounds like Kimberlin tried to blame the actions of his cohorts' swatting of others on Aaron. The very kind of lie I'd expect from a criminal like Kimberlin.

  4. SPQR  •  May 29, 2012 @12:03 pm

    unterminated italic.

  5. SarahW  •  May 29, 2012 @12:09 pm

    God Bless you, Ken.
    I want to contribute to a representation fund, if there is one….
    Any direction on that point would be welcom.

  6. SarahW  •  May 29, 2012 @12:09 pm

    e

  7. Doug Mataconis  •  May 29, 2012 @12:36 pm

    How to obtain transcripts or recordings of District Court of Maryland proceedings:

    http://mdcourts.gov/district/forms/acct/dca027br.html#transcripts

  8. Mercury  •  May 29, 2012 @12:53 pm

    “This is about everybody's rights, not just the rights and interests of "conservatives" or any other political group. We need to transcend partisanship over this — conservatives need to transcend it because making this partisan will marginalize the situation, and liberals and others need to transcend it because this could happen to then. [them]”
    - – - – - – - – - – - –

    Actually, this kind of thing is about conservative rights and interests. What’s at stake here are the individual’s rights against the state as specifically outlined in the US constitution. To the extent that you would like to conserve those rights and the classical (as opposed to modern) liberal values they represent, you’re the conservative here and the “progressives”, who brought us hate crime laws, the “living, breathing” constitution and a president who openly wishes for a “positive” Bill of Rights are on the other side.

    By the same token, don’t hold your breath waiting for the ACLU to jump in here either.

  9. ShelbyC  •  May 29, 2012 @1:00 pm

    Link to "first hand account" doesn't work for me.

  10. David  •  May 29, 2012 @1:03 pm

    The erosion of the right not to be arrested for no good reason whatsoever is a bipartisan effort.

  11. EBL  •  May 29, 2012 @1:06 pm
  12. David  •  May 29, 2012 @1:13 pm

    Regarding his representation (or lack thereof), it's sad to say but Aaron's behavior in this shitstorm has been a good example of how easy it is to do the wrong thing under difficult circumstances. Engaging with a psychopath, going to court without representation, and judging from that first-hand account, letting himself get caught up his (justified) anger at Kimberlin's evil. It's not easy to keep your head when every part of your brain is screaming "fight back," but it's damned important.

  13. Dan Weber  •  May 29, 2012 @1:27 pm

    The ACLU stood up for the Klan's right to march. The ACLU stood up for the people trying to make the movie about Hillary Clinton that led to Citizens United. While I agree they tend to lean left, they also care a lot about the free speech of everyone, even people they don't like, because they know what the next step would be.

    Anyone with contacts at the ACLU should exercise them for this.

  14. SPQR  •  May 29, 2012 @2:07 pm

    Sounds as though Aaron was arrested for violating the previous temporary "peace order" in the same incident that Kimberlin lied about, with a large number of fabricated "details" of an attack that never happened when you view surveillance video, when filing his criminal complaint about Aaron. Very bizarre.

  15. OffendedMan  •  May 29, 2012 @2:32 pm

    This is frightening. The fact that a judge can be so ignorant, and yet so powerful, is scary.

  16. TheOtherMatt  •  May 29, 2012 @3:20 pm

    Ken:

    When Compared to Braitbart and Drudge you're so left leaning we might as well start calling you Commrade Kensukoth. When Compared to say Keith Olberimen, and Kos you're a flaming reactionary who makes the last Kaiser of Germany look like Rosa Luxenberg . It's all a matter of perspective..
    Now back on the subject at hand I cannot believe what happened to A.W. He made me see for the first time that not all conservatives are Darth Vaderish figures bent on destroying all America For corporate profits, and/or Religious Purity. I have to pay my college deposits this week so I won't have diddly squat to donate, but lets hope for a quick Habeas Corpus. and a multimillion dollar malicious prosecution verdict. To be paid out of a prison commissary account

  17. Warren Jason Street  •  May 29, 2012 @3:35 pm

    "This is about everybody's rights, not just the rights and interests of "conservatives" or any other political group. We need to transcend partisanship over this — conservatives need to transcend it because making this partisan will marginalize the situation, and liberals and others need to transcend it because this could happen to then."

    No, this is not going to happen to me.

    Walker/Worthing is in jail because, and this is according to The Blaze, he took Kimberlin's iPad and played "keepaway" with it. I don't know if this is true or not, but if it is, then he deserves to be in jail and his incarceration has nothing to do with today's proceedings. This has nothing to do with "lawfare" or an activist judge or being a conservative or a liberal. It has to do with being immature and ridiculous in public.

    There's no defending Walker/Worthing if he did, in fact, take the man's property from him in a courthouse and held it at bay. If this proves to be true, then I would expect a number of conservative bloggers are going to have to hold their nose and figure out what to do next.

    Why would you get behind a guy like that? Is this the tribal instinct, writ large?

    There's no beating an amoral and remorseless person when you, yourself, can't keep your hands to yourself in a courthouse.

  18. Ken  •  May 29, 2012 @3:51 pm

    Warren, is that going to be your position if it turns out that Aaron was arrested for "incitement," or violation of the latest peace order?

  19. Karen Parker  •  May 29, 2012 @4:04 pm

    Does this let all bloggers in the states off the hook for slander, and no creditability, Your country seems to let them all get away with what ever they want regardless of whom the harm, You have blogged of a woman who does the same thing yet she is free, Where is the justice in the usa. Or do they just get to lie, extort cheat the system in every way and nothing happens to the real criminals,The courts in your country need to make examples of the right people not the innocent

  20. Patrick  •  May 29, 2012 @4:08 pm

    Karen, please go back and look at your comment. Then write what you really meant to say.

  21. Karen Parker  •  May 29, 2012 @4:12 pm

    My apology Aaron is a friend I wont post again not very good at it

  22. Karen Parker  •  May 29, 2012 @4:14 pm

    Is it possible to take down my post for me again my sincere apology from a old woman

  23. David  •  May 29, 2012 @4:20 pm

    Warren, apparently you haven't compared the video of that event to Kimberlin's claims of being physically attacked, punched repeatedly, and knocked over if you think the assault claim has a leg to stand on. The DA dropped charges for a reason.

  24. Christopher Swing  •  May 29, 2012 @4:28 pm

    Brett Kimberlin is dangerous to everyone's free speech, and clearly the threat here.

    But in addition to the Internet Tough Guys making threats not helping: could I also add that conservative bloggers and the like going off the deep end about how Kimberlin is a "Soros financed tool of the left" aren't helping, either.

  25. CHHR, VA  •  May 29, 2012 @4:29 pm

    Maryland process for ordering transcripts:

    http://www.courts.state.md.us/district/forms/acct/dca027br.html

  26. CHHR, VA  •  May 29, 2012 @4:43 pm

    Maryland process for ordering transcripts:

    the usual http followed by the www then this address: courts.state.md.us/district/forms/acct/dca027br.html

  27. CHHR, VA  •  May 29, 2012 @4:45 pm

    Ok, third time's charm I guess

    MD process for ordering transcripts:

    http then www courts(dot)state(dot)md(dot)us(forward slash)district(forward slash)forms(forward slash)acct(forward slash)dca027br(dot)html

  28. TFSporer  •  May 29, 2012 @4:51 pm

    Spent some time reading this controversy this weekend. High IQ wife following closely and briefing also.

    While horrifying, does this case not reflect the myriad of problems in the modern legal system-one that I serve as well. The failure to clearly protect every 1A right does expose and diminish us all-as Brett Kimberlin and Aaron Walker appeared to demonstrate today.

    Had a case recently where a police cheif tried to get a TRO against citizens "defaming" him. Classic prior restraint. We settled, would of killeld 'em but this Walker case again proves you just never know, hence the wisdom of settlement I suppose.

    Hopefully liberals will for once put down the gloves of political expediency. While not likely, controlling speech being an essential element of post modern liberal thought and all, but surely Alan Dershowitz isn't the last decent and honest liberal lawyer out there is he?

  29. Claire  •  May 29, 2012 @4:59 pm

    No, grabbing an iPad out of some bodies hand does not deserve jail time. A no contest plea and a promise to not even get a traffic ticket for 6 months, maybe, but not jail time.

  30. TomB  •  May 29, 2012 @5:47 pm

    It has to do with being immature and ridiculous in public.

    So Warren, you are happy with the State arresting people for this?

    This is some sort of crime in your eyes?

    BTW, you may want to read Aaron's blog to see exactly what happened that day.

    Although I'd pay good money to see some holding an ipad "at bay"

    "OK, nobody moves or the ipad gets it!!!"

  31. TomB  •  May 29, 2012 @6:00 pm

    According to Lee Stranahan The Blaze report was incorrect:

    UPDATE : The Blaze reports: I am told that the info the Blaze posted isn’t accurate. It seems to be that Walker was, in fact, arrested for violating an order to not write about Brett Kimberlin. But this is a fast moving situation and this info may not be correct, either.

    I've seen the same this elsewhere where it was stated he was arrested for "incitement" related to the peace order. It makes sense considering the "ipad incident" was dismissed by the DA months ago.

  32. PLW  •  May 29, 2012 @6:06 pm

    lol@ "balls-deep in dreamcatchers and macrame." It's funny because it's true!

  33. TomB  •  May 29, 2012 @6:06 pm

    Yep, looks like the "ipad abduction" was wrong. From Stacy McCain:

    UPDATE 6:25 p.m. ET: Sources say that blogger Aaron Walker has been released from custody in Rockville, Maryland. He was charged with “incitement,” but released on his own recognizance. Readers are encouraged to donate to the National Bloggers Club to help support Aaron’s defense against Brett Kimberlin..

    Those of you without ipad fetishes should consider donating.

    Sorry Warren, all that righteous indignation for nothing….

    But sleep well knowing no ipads were harmed in the making of this farce.

  34. Darleen Click  •  May 29, 2012 @6:11 pm

    As I have read previously, Aaron took the iPad because Kimberlin was taking Aaron's picture with it within the courthouse.

    Color me surprised, but that sort of thing is forbidden at the courthouse where I work for obvious reasons. How did Kimberlin even get the iPad past security? Even photo-capable cell phones are not allowed in a courthouse by the public.

  35. Mark Noonan  •  May 29, 2012 @6:44 pm

    "A mild answer turns back wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger." – Proverbs 15:1

    From what I've read, Kimberlin is a real piece of work – but the mistake made by those who have now run afoul of his methods was to engage him on his level. Kimberlin appears to make his way by making people miserable – those who wanted to expose what he was doing went about it in just that manner. Not smart.

    I understand – yes, he was convicted of bombings and is suspected of murder. Horrible, lousy things to have done – but it was also a long time ago and he paid the price required of him by our judicial system (you can argue that the punishment wasn't enough and that is fine…and also pointless; what is done is done). Clearly, Kimberlin fears word getting out about his past – and rightly so; his ability to pull in money from liberal suckers could be at risk (and only "could be"; some liberal pinheads would probably view him as some sort of hero for what he was convicted of). But what is at issue is not what Kimberlin did a long time ago but what he is doing today – which is using a "non-profit" in order to engage in overtly political activities. Kimberlin is just the worst example we can likely find of the real scandal: the left has set up a tax and regulatory system which allows them to fight their political causes largely on the taxpayer's dime.

    Think about it – what is a public sector union except a taxpayer subsidized arm of the Democratic party? What are all those foundations and sundry NGO's but more of the same? When we on the right think "charity" we think of people who provide food, medicine and housing to poor people. The left, though, has taken that word "charity" and changed it in to "well paid, taxpayer subsidized jobs for advancing the overall cause of the left". What we who care about liberty should be doing is not exposing each individual creep involved but the fact that the taxpayers are paying for individuals and groups to work against the best interests of the taxpayers.

    But, it wasn't done that way – people wanted Kimberlin exposed, as if exposing him would do anything. Suppose we drive Kimberlin out of business – heck, suppose we could even get him prosecuted and flung back in to jail. What would change? Sure, one less nasty person doing the deed day in and day out…but tens of thousands of others still doing the same thing. By engaging Kimberlin like that – raking over his past and putting him in a mind to ruthlessly defend himself – all we did was get down in to the gutter with him, expend a great deal of time and effort which we should be spending advancing our cause and, ultimately, staying away from the real issue: the taxpayer subsidies of the left.

    Never, ever, ever give in to the evil of the left – but that means, also, not copying them. Think of it like this: if something happened more than 10 years ago and the subject in question paid a legal price for what he did, then leave it alone. And anything from 1 to 10 years ago – consider it carefully; really think it over: is bringing it up really illustrating what is wrong and how it can be fixed or is it just an attack on individuals? If you aren't 100% certain that it actually helps the cause (defeating the left) then don't do it.

  36. Joe  •  May 29, 2012 @7:40 pm

    Charged with incitement. I wonder wha the judge thought – incitement of what – the average person’s common outrage at the indecency which is Kimberlin? Jazus.

    I’ve read Aaron’s detailed accounting of the situation as well as his prior blog posts going back before that incident and there is no way by any stretch of the imagination that any of it could be labeled as “inciting” harm to Kimberlin. I also noted that all of the key bloggers who participated in blog about Brett Kimberlin day had one thing in common, when posters started to veer off topic and talk about posting home addresses or alluding that Kimberlin needed to be “taken care of” they all said “don’t say that”.

    Those that understand what this is really about have refrained from the threats and political rhetoric. Those that haven’t have just proven they are idiots and part of the problem.

    I do wish Aaron had a lawyer. Not because he isn’t a capable one himself, but because having been witness to a baseless lawsuit against a friend I know how important it is to have representation as a buffer between your emotions and the case at hand – especially as it pertains to the perception of the judge.

    Any chance Aaron might get some pro bono help? Will see what I can dredge up but it won’t be as much as I’d like given what I just tossed at having the roof replaced, the pool re-plastered, new hot water heaters, etc. Sigh.

  37. Dustin  •  May 29, 2012 @7:57 pm

    Thanks for this post. It's the best one I've read so far about this topic.

    I am too close to the situation to provide a balanced reaction to it. I'll just say I support Aaron.

  38. Ghost  •  May 29, 2012 @8:29 pm

    Consider yourself bookmarked. Thank you for defending the first amendment. So many seem afraid to.

  39. Georg Felis  •  May 29, 2012 @8:55 pm

    Looks like the transcript is $75 and the recording is $15. I think *both* of them will take a lot of fog out of this. Think we need to chip in or is somebody out there going to pick up the tab? (Yes I'm a lazy freeloader)

  40. Ken  •  May 29, 2012 @8:58 pm

    Note new updates.

  41. Scott Jacobs  •  May 29, 2012 @9:07 pm

    This judge was a moron. He has no idea what the hell people are talking about, and then just rules.

    I am rather disgusted that the judge will have immunity for his raging fuckwittery here.

  42. repsac3  •  May 29, 2012 @9:52 pm

    As what some may consider a barking moonbat liberal, I have to concur with Christopher Swing (and the post author, of course) about not making this a partisan thing, if you want blogger / free speech supporting citizen (as opposed to "conservative" blogger) support.

    Ok, sure… Brett Kimberlin was the founder of two orgs that fought for liberal causes… But just like you folks, most liberals never heard of the guy (or those orgs, frankly) before last week. (Go back and read how many posts in the blogburst started off by saying, in one form or another, "I just learned about this guy, Brett Kimberlin, and that he was responsible for several bombs…") Same goes for us on the left; most of us never heard of him before the blogburst, either. And, though perhaps they should've, it's likely that the prominent liberal individuals and foundations who support "Justice Through Music" or "Velvet Revolution" never bothered to investigate Brett Kimberlin. They likely donated based on the mission statements and documented activities of the groups, and either had no idea about the history or alleged current activities of Kimberlin, or believed that he served his time and were willing to give him a chance to do right (and, while I understand that we likely disagree as to whether the stated missions of those two political orgs constitute "doing right" politically, they are legal and in keeping with mainstream lib thought.).. So all the talk about "paid hitman of the left" and making Tides (or me, as a run of the mill lib) responsible for anything Kimberlin, et. al. has done comes off as partisan crazy talk… To my way of thinkin' (and the author's, based on what he said in point 2), this is the same as what folks on the right said about Anders Breivik, Jim David Adkisson (who shot up a Tennessee Unitarian Universalist church because they permitted same sex marriage), and/or the Hutaree militia group (just to name a few); Mainstream people are not responsible for what crazy people do, even when those crazy people claim to be acting according to mainstream (liberal or conservative) values.

    (I had another paragraph or two about the excessive focus on the convictions from the 80's, but Mark Noonan above nailed it in the first two paragraphs (3, if you count the quote). Yes, he did terrible things a long time ago… but they're pretty tangential to the bad things he's being accused of, today.) If the goal is to stop the harassment, lawfare, and SWATting of the recent past and present, focus a whole lot more on that, and a whole lot less on 30+ years ago… or on the supposed ties that make all liberals responsible for his unlawful and/or crazy behavior. As long as Kimberlin is treated like a cudgel with which to beat liberals and liberalism over the head (rather than about speech rights, and bringing a bad guy to justice), liberal support is going to be sparse.

  43. Shelby  •  May 29, 2012 @9:57 pm

    Even photo-capable cell phones are not allowed in a courthouse by the public.

    Not true in all courthouses; I routinely take mine into state and federal courts in California. Though I'm forbidden to use the photo function.

    More generally, this appears to be an extreme but hardly unheard-of example of a judge issuing a totally wrong ruling based on his ignorance, abetted by one party's lies and the other's (emotionally-generated) incompetence. This is why we have appellate courts, and at least this time reversal is a no-brainer.

  44. G Thompson  •  May 29, 2012 @10:23 pm

    Just coming into this full story, after only having read Aaron's take on it the other week

    From an Aussie perspective this is just fucking insanity.

    Not only that Kimberlin is able to get away with all this (at the moment anyway) and is not languishing still in gaol for his original 50year conviction, but for the fact that this in someway is seen by idiots of all shapes and sizes in America as somehow a political thing..

    If you think it's about politics you are a fucking loon and are as bat shit crazy as Crystal Cox. In fact I don't even think she would classify this as a political thing.

    This is about the absolute right for anyone to speak up against tyranny, absolute injustice, terrorism (and by terrorism i mean real not imaginary nor 'of the moment') and the right to live in a world not controlled by egoistic power hungry freaks like Brett Kimberlin.

    Just read a great and welcome update from the Blaze (Personally never heard of the paper before) http://www.theblaze.com/stories/harassed-blogger-allegedly-arrested-after-court-hearing-with-convicted-speedway-bomber-brett-kimberlin/

    At approximately 5:30 p.m. ET Aaron Walker tweeted that he has been released from custody but that he cannot reveal any additional details until he speaks with his lawyer. The attorney was charged with “incitement,” but released on his own recognizance.

  45. Patrick  •  May 29, 2012 @10:30 pm

    Cast out the beam, G Thompson.

    The injunction against Walker is a clear violation of the Constitution, by an ignorant semi-retired judge, which will be overturned in due time.

    To put it another way, this is insanity from an American perspective as well.

  46. Dustin  •  May 29, 2012 @10:47 pm

    Let Australians remark with derision. I am ashamed that this is possible in my country. It is a disgrace. And I am learning that this disgrace is not isolated. I care now because it's happening to a friend. If only the media would adequately cover this story! If only the public would watch that kind of coverage!

  47. Joe Pullen  •  May 29, 2012 @11:03 pm

    G. Thompson, Dustin, Patrick – yes, yes, yes, in SPADES.

    Mark Noonan. While I think you are a very smart and articulate individual, I’m going to disagree with you on a few key points and agree with you on one. The main one being that this is NOT and should not be about taxpayer subsidies of the left – or the right for that matter. Frankly I was somewhat (and embarrassingly) oblivious of Kimberlin until he stepped into the role of attempting so squash free speech because it didn’t play nice with his agenda.

    I’ve little patience for politicians and even less for pontificating about issues for same, especially as I am neither left nor right. This is truly about something far more fundamental – an individual who is hell bent on controlling what other can say about him even if it is the truth. Truth has no shelf life or stale date, nor should it. It lives forever. And while I tolerate conservatives and liberals and their opinions and their rights to debate them – most heatedly even, I don’t nor will I ever tolerate someone who uses that as an excuse to control my right to express my opinions or speak the truth – which is exactly what Kimberlin is attempting to accomplish. I would say the same thing whether those same tactics came from a conservative like McCain or anyone else for that matter. Please do NOT make this about politics – or you distract from the real issue at hand.

    Regarding your comment of “yes, he was convicted of bombings and is suspected of murder. Horrible, lousy things to have done – but it was also a long time ago and he paid the price required of him by our judicial system.” I might argue if he has actually paid the price. I’m not sure he has (and not for political reasons) and I’m sure Carl DeLong’s widow would agree. Irrespective of that, and understanding the past is just that, the more important fact is HOW Kimberlin has continued to conduct himself since then. It speaks volumes to his character that he has shown no remorse for his actions and has made every effort possible via multiple lawsuits to avoid making restitution to the people he has irrevocably damaged. I would argue that Hitler’s killing of Jews was the past, that Manson, Dalhmer, and others crimes are in the past and they may or may not have paid the price by time in prison. But that doesn’t silence what they did nor does it mean their crimes should not be a subject we continue to talk about today or that the facts of what they have done should not follow them for the rest of their lives. I frankly don’t care whether it is uncomfortable to them or not. I’m of the opinion that if it is uncomfortable then perhaps they should not have blow up or murdered people in the first place. It’s important to keep in mind all of these individuals (Kimberlin included) KNEW what they planned to do would harm someone else and they CHOSE to do it anyway. Let me repeat that – they KNEW it would harm even kill someone else and they CHOSE to do it anyway. That state of mind doesn’t change with a few years or even 30 in prison. I only wish that was indeed the case. Prison cannot correct an underlying physiological personality issue or the narcissism, lack of moral character and just plain evil that it takes to contemplate much less execute such heinous crimes.

    Now having said all of that – here is where I 100% agree with you. “but that means, also, not copying them.” You nailed it – we have to be better than that – every single one of us who truly understand and care about what is at stake – free speech. Not better than left or right – but better period. We have to rise above the petty political, religious and other bullshit because ultimately this is NOT about right or left, it’s about protecting our rights – and in this case the First Amendment. We can’t let emotions make us do something rash and stupid whether it is to appear to “threaten” Kimberlin or in any way play into his hand as the “victim”. Kimberlin is counting onthat. And, as Ken has said over and over, “how about defending speech because it’s speech not because you agree with it” – that pretty much says it perfectly – in my opinion.

  48. G Thompson  •  May 29, 2012 @11:15 pm

    @Patrick & @Dustin
    I wasn't attempting to deride Americans and I apologise if it came off that way.

    What I was trying to state is that for anyone to say this matter is political is asinine whether they are from America, Australia, Timbuktu or even from Alpha Centauri.

  49. Mike M.  •  May 29, 2012 @11:29 pm

    This is what bullies do.

    They beat the person into submission. Then when the bully is verbally confronted, they turn the blame around on the person who is being bullied.

    This happened to me in elementary school. The only way to deal with bullies is on their level. Otherwise, they see weakness and only continue with their tactics until the person who is being bullied strikes them down.

    I'm sorry if my comment is not PC. But turning the other cheek doesn't work on sociopaths – they thrive on what they perceive as weakness. As the old saying goes: Live by the gun, die by the gun.

  50. TJIC  •  May 30, 2012 @2:41 am

    > Call me crazy, but in the United States of America, under our heritage of due process and freedom of expression, I don't think it's too much to ask a Court to provide a coherent, grammatical sentence justifying six months of prior restraint of political comment on a public figure.

    You're still confusing the country we live in NOW with the country we used to live in THEN.

    The time when voting, protesting, and going to court can solve the problem of overreaching government is rapidly coming to an end, if it has not already done so.

  51. Christopher Swing  •  May 30, 2012 @2:46 am

    @Darleen Click

    "Color me surprised, but that sort of thing is forbidden at the courthouse where I work for obvious reasons."

    And what might those obvious reasons be? Because I don't think they're as obvious as you think they are.

    Here in Indiana, we too have such a backwards courthouse, because all electronic devices are forbidden (for non-lawyers and non-cops) from the entire building. Apparently someone might take a picture of someone in a courtroom and steal their soul.

    Apparently courthouses in other parts of the country manage to treat their non-lawyer/cop citizens like adults, with no souls lost to photography.

    But I still have yet to hear anyone explicate exactly what the articulable, legitimate threat of having a picture taken is. Or how the ban (for non-lawyers/cops) stops anyone from simply following someone outside the courtroom/building and taking a picture there.

    (And if the iPad was grabbed to prevent picture taking, nope, can't get behind that.)

  52. TomB  •  May 30, 2012 @3:13 am

    But I still have yet to hear anyone explicate exactly what the articulable, legitimate threat of having a picture taken is. Or how the ban (for non-lawyers/cops) stops anyone from simply following someone outside the courtroom/building and taking a picture there.

    Since it has been proved that that incident had nothing to do with the current situation, I don't see any reason to even discuss it anymore.

  53. Tony  •  May 30, 2012 @6:51 am

    Christopher,

    According to Mr. Walker's blog posts, he grabbed the iPad because he reacted out of fear and uncertainty for what Kimberlin might be about to do when he raised the iPad. Walker knew of Kimberlin's past, so Walker said he reacted based on that. He then said that the alternate explanation (i.e. taking a photo) occurred to him after his initial fear faded and he had time to think it through while waiting for the Sheriff's deputies to arrive. It was a self-defense reaction, not a case of him snatching the iPad to prevent picture taking (or to play keepaway, as Warren uncritically inferred from The Blaze). Mr. Walker's posts walk through the timeline, including Kimberlin's accusations about his "injuries" that are unsupported by the video evidence from the courthouse camera.

    To Tom's point, it's worth talking about because his writing about that incident is part of what the judge apparently used to justify jailing him for "death threats" that are clearly nowhere within the posts.

  54. A Nonny Moose  •  May 30, 2012 @7:11 am

    Looks like it's too late to register http://www.brettkimberlinisacensorialcunt.com, which points right back here.

  55. Dustin  •  May 30, 2012 @7:30 am

    "But I still have yet to hear anyone explicate exactly what the articulable, legitimate threat of having a picture taken is."

    It's not relevant to what happened yesterday. I think some (not you) are pushing that it is relevant in order to get people to say 'well maybe Aaron was in the wrong'.

    Anyway, I will briefly note that Kimberlin and pals were saying that the more exposure of Aaron the more likely Islamic radicals would retaliate against his drawing Mohammad blog. So there's one way an anonymous person might be harmed by being photographed. Aaron was there at the time successfully having his identity sealed. Why would Brett need to take his photo? Obviously because he didn't care about the spirit of that order. Which was further shown by many other legal actions Brett took as Ron Brynaert publicized them in a way designed apparently to out Aaron.

  56. mojo  •  May 30, 2012 @7:59 am

    "A massively multi-player zero-sum game with modifiable rule-set."

    The Law, that is.

  57. TomB  •  May 30, 2012 @10:45 am

    To Tom's point, it's worth talking about because his writing about that incident is part of what the judge apparently used to justify jailing him for "death threats" that are clearly nowhere within the posts.

    Given the length of his epic post on the subject (28,000 words!) he wrote about a lot of things. He could have written about what Kimberlin wore to the court that day and it would not make a bit of difference. The First Amendment makes no distinction about what you write about.

    The truth of the matter is what Dustin says, some here are trying to blame Aaron over the "ipad incident". I blame him more for not better controlling his temper when facing a judge who was clearly out of his depth. Although given what Patterico wrote, this was a set-up, and nothing that happened during the hearing had anything to do with him being arrested.

  58. Mark Noonan  •  May 30, 2012 @10:58 am

    Joe,

    I'm all about forgiveness – have to be; its a Christian thing. If I don't, I won't be. So, no matter what a person does – even if they are not remorseful about it – I have to forgive. Given this and given the fact that we can't reach in to the past and ensure that Kimberlin pays what any of us might view as the proper price for his actions, I can only leave it alone…especially since if we are to engage him on that level we're just going to wind up playing his game.

    To me, Kimberlin is a symptom, not a disease. The disease is our rotten system which, to boil it down, is set up to reward only those who are most closely connected to the sources of money and power in the United States. Kimberlin has taken advantage of this – he's playing by the lousy, disgusting rules we have set up (true, it is really a matter of "we allowed them to be set up" rather than "we set them up"; but it makes no matter – people get the government they deserve and our laziness and cowardice has ensured we'd get this hideous system). If we want to stop Kimberlin then our task is to change the system so that it is more likely that dishonorable people cannot get ahead – and that honorable people will reap their proper reward.

  59. Christopher Swing  •  May 30, 2012 @11:32 am

    @Tony – OK, I shouldn't think he would have grabbed the iPad just to avoid being photographed. Grabbing it to prevent being smacked is fine.

    @Dustin – Wasn't Aaron non-anonymous at that point anyway? Still doesn't justify Darleen's stance of a total ban of photography in the courthouse being "obviously" justified, anyway.

    But since Aaron wasn't trying to prevent himself being photographed, and it's apparent Kimberlin lied about the iPad incident, the courthouse electronics ban is a subject for a different 1st Amendment post.

  60. Justin T.  •  May 30, 2012 @11:47 am

    OBVIOUSLY it's because of Walker's blogging that Kimberlin is receiving death threats. It couldn't POSSIBLY be that he does things like setting off bombs that make people WANT to kill him.

  61. B Free  •  May 30, 2012 @12:10 pm

    What most of you seemed to have missed is that he should not have had to of been in court defending himself in the first place. The first order (peace order or whatever it's called) should never have been approved to begin with. This court date should never have happened.

    Regarding the partisan issue, being of the left, by the left, paid for by the left, etc., is the very reason it is not being picked up by the mainstream media, and that's exactly why it comes up. And, look at all the ways the left is working to shut down any/all speech they don't agree with, and too often succeeding, and that is why the right keeps bringing it up. This is a PATTERN. Although the worst example, lets hope it helps UNITE both sides, so we may ALL continue to speak.

  62. Dustin  •  May 30, 2012 @12:20 pm

    "@Dustin – Wasn't Aaron non-anonymous at that point anyway? Still doesn't justify Darleen's stance of a total ban of photography in the courthouse being "obviously" justified, anyway."

    He had just won a seal on his name from the court minutes earlier, actually.

    I'm not sure about merits of the photography issue, but of course Brett being able to post photos of Aaron while noting maybe some (exaggerated, IMO) radical muslim threat could get him is not a good thing. Even if they knew his name, which IIRC was not public until Ron Brynaert told everyone specifically to search the MD case search website. http://imgur.com/PfKgZ

  63. Christopher Swing  •  May 30, 2012 @1:05 pm

    @Dustin – Well, in that case, photography in general isn't the problem – Kimberlin violating the seal is.

  64. Joe  •  May 30, 2012 @1:06 pm

    Mark N. – well said.

  65. David  •  May 30, 2012 @3:28 pm

    Aaron won a seal on his name, but, somewhat humorously, used his actual name in the post announcing his victory.

  66. Scott Jacobs  •  May 30, 2012 @3:50 pm

    David, that's because in the months since he won the seal, Brett, Neal and Ron (whom I call Roy because it annoys him) – along with whatever sockpuppets they control – succeeded is pretty much making the seal pointless.

    You'll note that the Peace Orders were filed against his real name.

  67. Dustin  •  May 30, 2012 @5:20 pm

    "@Dustin – Well, in that case, photography in general isn't the problem – Kimberlin violating the seal is."

    You have a good point.

    And it goes to a greater one. What's the point of rules that only constrain people like you and me… who wouldn't be taking pictures of people in order to cause them potential harm. Those who would… well they don't seem to care that there's a rule forbiding them from doing so. In fact, when one judge told Brett he should be careful admitting he took a photo in a court building, his reaction was to scoff about it. And he's right to do so, as he has not suffered any prosecution or sanction or even a loss of credibility with the court, as far as I can tell.

    The rules do not apply to the wicked if a court doesn't enforce the rules anyway.

  68. Dustin  •  May 30, 2012 @5:21 pm

    "Aaron won a seal on his name, but, somewhat humorously, used his actual name in the post announcing his victory."

    I didn't recall that. If I'm right, the first time Aaron used his name on his blog was when he posted the summary post for the framejob.

  69. AlphaCentauri  •  May 30, 2012 @5:24 pm

    Most liberals have no idea who Brett Kimberlin or Aaron Walker are. They couldn't care less if the two of them carry out a private feud. But most do care about the First Amendment.

    Those of you who say you support Aaron, stop making this about liberals vs. conservatives. It's about a sociopath and the people he's learned to manipulate vs. society. You're only hurting him by limiting his possible base of support. It makes no more sense to blame all liberals for Brett Kimberlin than it would to blame all white people.

  70. Dustin  •  May 30, 2012 @7:40 pm

    "Those of you who say you support Aaron, stop making this about liberals vs. conservatives. It's about a sociopath and the people he's learned to manipulate vs. society."

    True.

  71. Mia  •  May 31, 2012 @7:08 am

    I'm sorry to say, this sort of "lawfare" has been going on for decades. Perjury is never prosecuted in the system and is rampant. It's a joke to even call someone a perjuror – just go back to the newspaper discussion surrounding Clinton's impeachment if you want the background, because this has been an open secret for a long, long time. The authorities can do what they want, and what they seem to want is for a broadening of these definitions to use for their own purposes. I believe it's called overcriminalization. What I find amazing is that all of the sudden people are becoming aware of it. You are now seeing the END effects of a long process, not something that just has started happening. Welcome to the real world.

  72. Dustin  •  May 31, 2012 @9:04 am

    Mia, that's how I see it. I only recently became aware of how systematic the problem is because it impacted a friend or two. Now I see that it's a long running problem that must be fixed.

  73. Jess  •  Jun 1, 2012 @5:36 pm

    Well, Kimberlin's little site "Breibart Unmasked" states Aaron was arrested for the supposed "assault" and the judge found Kimberlins medical records to be truthful. Bullhonky.

    It also has postings from people pretending to be others that basically allude to everyone particpating in blogging about Kimberlin will get arrested. And some silly posting from a fake former prosecutor – maybe that's why she's former.

    Texas Tim
    May 30, 2012

    Incredible. I have been reading on Twitter that Law Enforcement authorities have had taps on Kimberlin’s phones and email for the past two weeks and that this was shown to the judge. Can you confirm this. If so, the LE surely also had Walker’s phones and emails tapped. I am sure that there is something a lot bigger than a mere blogger violating a peace order. This sounds like the feds are trying to roll Walker to cooperate against all the bloggers who instigated the mob attack on Kimberlin. I think that we will probably be seeing more people arrested shortly. Anyone who continues to communicate with Walker better understand that he is a real liability now. He is a prime candidate to be the next Hal Turner feeding a steady stream of intel to LE on right wing and Islamic hating extremism. He reminds me of Sabu.

    (reply)

    Molly Good
    May 31, 2012

    As a former prosecutor, I want to give Mr. Walker some much needed advice.

    Right now Mr. Walker has multiple legal problems — criminal charge, peace order, bar complaint, and probable federal criminal charges and a civil suit. He will be buried in litigation for the next decade and will be left penniless, divorced, unemployable and incarcerated. So what should he do. First, run, not walk, to the closest FBI office and offer to cooperate against all those who participated in the illegal campaign to attack Kimberlin. He is facing numerous federal charges including misuse of computer, interstate threats, extortion, and fraud. The first one who makes the deal will be the one who gets the least amount of time.

    Second, show contrition. In the federal and state systems, acceptance of responsibility and cooperation require a lesser sentence.

    Third, remove all blog posts, tweets, and and other mentions of Kimberlin. This will demonstrate to a judge that Walker has made a clean break from his criminal past.

    Fourth, make a public statement on his and other blogs asking for forgiveness and expressing genuine remorse for his actions.

    Now, Mr. Walker will probably ignore all these recommendations and will instead do what he wants to do. But he has consistently made the wrong decisions over and over recently and he is close to losing everything. If he wants to turn this around, he needs to accept my advice.

  74. Ken  •  Jun 1, 2012 @5:39 pm

    1. Whoever is posing as "Tim" doesn't know how phone taps work.

    2. My very strong inclination is that "Molly Good" is a troll, but in fact I have met prosecutors and former prosecutors that stupid.

  75. Scott Jacobs  •  Jun 1, 2012 @7:13 pm

    Tim seems to be trying to row the idea that the feds are actually working with Brett, and attempting to scare Aaron into backing down.

    And the Concern Troll can blow me. If she's a lawyer, I'm the Queen of fucking England.

  76. SPQR  •  Jun 1, 2012 @7:16 pm

    What Ken said.

  77. Joe  •  Jun 1, 2012 @8:34 pm

    Yep – good ole Texas Tim is lying out of his ass. Law enforcement does not "tweet" that they're putting taps on someone's phone and email unless they are truly incompetent and looking to get fired.

    Scott, somehow I doubt Molly is actually a lawyer because that has to go down on record as the stupidest piece of advice ever.

    They’re both clearly trolls and sock puppets trying to scare and intimidate others into not talking about Kimberlin as are all of the "fake" commentors on that site. Too bad it won’t work.
    .

  78. AlphaCentauri  •  Jun 1, 2012 @9:05 pm

    Given that there is evidence that Kimberlin's friends all cooperate to keep their blog posts on-message, why would he want to make people believe the feds are monitoring his electronic and phone communications? Maybe because they are. Maybe he's egotistical enough to want everything documented by law enforcement and volunteered for it.

    But why would the feds have any interest in whether people are contacting Kimberlin to threaten him — Kimberlin, whose associates have been accused of SWATing Patterico — Kimberlin, who runs a nonprofit with rather vague goals that involves having musical acts perform to promote voting, musical acts that have occasionally been known to expect to be provided with various herbal comfort items by the promoters hosting them — Kimberlin who professes a concern for representing the 99%, a concern shared by the Anonymous computer community, which has been a particular concern for federal agents given the prominence of their targets.

    I'm perfectly willing to believe the feds are monitoring the people communicating with Kimberlin, but probably not for the reasons he believes.

  79. Scott Jacobs  •  Jun 1, 2012 @9:26 pm

    I'm perfectly willing to believe the feds are monitoring the people communicating with Kimberlin, but probably not for the reasons he believes.

    Totally not taking that as a bet…

  80. David  •  Jun 5, 2012 @2:07 pm

    Per the Volokh Conspiracy, Aaron now has Eugene Volokh in his corner, along with local counsel. This makes me happy.

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