Criminal Justice

Blogger Convicted in Judicial Death Wish; Mom Sees 1st Amendment Implications

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This time, jurors deliberated only two hours before convicting a right-wing blogger for an Internet tirade in which he said Judge Richard Posner and two other federal appeals judges “deserved to be killed” and “must die.”

It was the third trial for blogger and Internet radio host Harold Turner. Two others had ended in hung juries. He was convicted on Friday of threatening to assault or kill the judges with the intent of impeding their judicial duties, according to stories in the New York Times and Bloomberg. He could be sentenced to up to 10 years in prison.

Turner’s mother, Kathy Diamond, criticized the verdict by Brooklyn jurors, according to the Bloomberg account. “There goes the First Amendment for everybody,” she said. “Since when does words mean you threatened to kill somebody?”

Turner had criticized the panel from the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for a June 2009 ruling upholding a handgun ban in Chicago. “Let me be the first to say this plainly: These judges must die,” he wrote. “Their blood will replenish the tree of liberty.” He also posted the judges’ work addresses and photos.

All three judges testified that they felt threatened by the blog posts. According to the Times, “It was an unusual trial with a witness roster full of opposites. There were the three judges, who are more accustomed to issuing orders than answering questions. And there was Mr. Turner, who was known for making flamboyant antigovernment and white supremacist statements, but who also was a paid informant for the Federal Bureau of Investigation and said he was assigned to gather information on precisely the sorts of people who might agree with and act on those statements.”

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