Constitutional Law

Infomercial Pitchman Gets 30 Days for Crashing Federal Judge's Computer

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Updated: During a criminal contempt hearing in Chicago last week, U.S. District Judge Robert Gettleman said he was inclined to sentence infomercial pitchman Kevin Trudeau to a jail term for unleashing a flood of fan e-mail that crashed the jurist’s computer.

And today, calling the deluge of some 300 e-mails a direct attack on the court, Gettleman did just that, giving Trudeau 30 days and ordering him to forfeit his $50,000 bond, reports the Chicago Tribune.

However, he stayed the sentence for 24 hours, according to the Associated Press, to give Trudeau a chance to protest the jail term to the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. (Subsequently, the 7th Circuit stayed the jail term and set a Tuesday hearing in the case.)

“This was an attempt by Mr. Trudeau to harass, intimidate and influence the court,” Gettleman said in court today concerning the “harassing, threatening and interfering” e-mail, reports the Chicago Sun-Times. They not only clogged and crashed his court computer but shut down his BlackBerry, according to the judge.

After the hearing, Trudeau attorney Richard Anderson read a statement that said Trudeau doesn’t think he committed a crime and “believes that he was simply exercising his First Amendment rights and was permissibly encouraging others to do the same,” the Tribune reports.

Trudeau had urged fans on his website last week to e-mail Judge Gettleman concerning a civil case brought by the Federal Trade Commission over advertising for Trudeau’s books that Gettleman is overseeing. Within a day or so, however, Trudeau posted a new message to fans, admitting that he had made a mistake and asking them not to contact the judge.

Additional coverage: “Radio Host in Contempt Case Urges 1000s of Fans to E-Mail Court; Federal Judge Is Not Pleased”

Blog of Legal Times: “E-mail Blitz Backfires for Infomercial Star in Contempt Proceeding “

Updated on Feb. 18 to include subsequent and Blog of Legal Times coverage.

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