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Criminal Justice

‘Vexatious litigator’ is suspect in courthouse bomb threats in five states

Posted Mar 22, 2013 8:18 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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Some Ohio judges are familiar with a Manfield man who is a suspect in courthouse bomb threats in five states in November and December.

The suspect, Lonny Lee Bristow, was previously dubbed a "vexatious litigator" in Ohio, the Mansfield News Journal reports. He has been charged with making a telephoned bomb threat to a Tennessee courthouse, the Tri-City Herald reports. He is also a suspect in courthouse bomb threats in four other states, according to the stories and an FBI press release.

Investigators allege that Bristow used a prepaid calling card purchased at a Walmart Supercenter to make threats to 19 Tennessee courthouses, Reuters reports. They have also linked his prepaid phone card purchases to other courthouse bomb threats in Nebraska, Washington, Oregon and Mississippi, according to the news reports.

Authorities searched Bristow’s home on Tuesday and arrested him on Wednesday.

Bristow was designated a “vexatious litigator” in 1997 for filing more than 100 lawsuits during a prison stint prison that targeted judges, law enforcement personnel and others. Ohio Justice Paul Pfeifer referred to Bristow in a 2000 article (PDF) about the state’s vexatious litigator law.

“What is a ‘vexatious litigator? ’” Pfeifer wrote. “If you looked it up in the dictionary, you'd probably find a picture of Lonny Lee Bristow next to the definition.” The Ohio Supreme Court upheld the vexatious litigator law (PDF) in an appeal by Bristow; Pfeifer dissented because he believes the law will keep valid complaints out of the courts.

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