Bloggers protest bizarre court ruling in Walker case, SWATting

posted at 8:41 am on June 8, 2012 by Ed Morrissey

Today, a number of bloggers will observe a day of silence to protest the strange and unconstitutional ruling by a Maryland court that had Aaron Walker arrested for, essentially, writing about someone — in a non-threatening manner.  The court imposed a restraining order based on how others reacted to Walker’s posts, a clear violation of the First Amendment and existing precedent, and then threw him in jail for refusing to comply with that order.  Eugene Volokh wrote a dispassionate review of those events a little over a week ago, and agreed to consult on Walker’s appeal pro bono this week.

Ace proposed the protest:

The only post on Friday will be a bold-faced Open Letter to Congress, urging them to act and not attempt to pass the buck to others.

They are our representatives; we would like some representation.

They vowed to defend and protect the Constitution; they can honor that vow now.

I will post links of Congressmen’s and Senator’s email addresses and offices and phone numbers, and urge every concerned American citizen to let them know, in no uncertain terms, that a crime in progress against the First Amendment (and people’s safety) is occurring, and we humbly request they take this seriously.

They are literally going to get someone killed. That is their endgame here.

The Boss Emeritus concurs:

 In honor of the National Day of Blogger Silence called byAce of Spades, this blog is going dark. But far from shutting up, I’ll be spending the day calling, e-mailing, and tweeting members of Congress, GOP leaders, journalists, and influencers to ask them what they are doing to defend the First Amendment rights of bloggers. This is a day of action, not inaction. Below my column, I’ll list some contact info for elected officials who need to hear from you. …

On Wednesday, U.S. Senator Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) bravely stepped forward to press this vital issue. In a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder, Sen. Chambliss decried the “harassing and frightening actions” of Internet menaces who have recently gone after several conservative new media citizen journalists and activists. (VIDEO here.)

GOP Rep. Ken Marchant of Texas also added his voice, telling Holder in a statement that he is “very afraid of the potential chilling effects that these reported actions may have in silencing individuals who would otherwise be inclined to exercise their Constitutional right to free speech.” And the American Center for Law and Justice, a leading conservative free speech public interest law firm, announced it was providing legal representation to the National Bloggers Club – a new media association that has provided support and raised funds for targets of this coordinated harassment. (Full disclosure: I volunteer on the National Bloggers’ Club board of directors.)

The ACLJ described the importance of the case very simply: “Free speech is under attack.”

Sen. Chambliss and Rep. Marchant called specific attention to one terrifying tactic against these bloggers: SWAT-ting. These hoaxes occur “when a perpetrator contacts local police to report a violent incident at a target’s home.” Callers disguise their true identities and locations in order to provoke a potentially deadly SWAT/police response descending upon the targets’ homes.

As online conservatives and now ABC News have reported, recent SWAT-ting victims include New Jersey-based Mike Stack, a blogger and Twitter user targeted last summer after helping to expose disgraced former N.Y. Democratic Rep. Anthony Weiner’s shady social media activities; California blogger Patrick Frey, a deputy district attorney at Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office who recently posted a bone-chilling account and audio of his summer 2011 SWATting at his blog, Patterico.com; and CNN Contributor and RedState.com managing editor Erick Erickson, whose Georgia home was targeted by a faker claiming an “accidental shooting” there late last month.

At some point, there will probably be links to other blogs joining the protest; I’ll add them as I see them.   Instapundit and Hot Air will be conducting business as usual, but we hope to drive some traffic to the protests, too.  Those include:


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sorry, ‘utter’

avgjo on June 8, 2012 at 2:02 PM

Weird protest. Seems like the best way to protest threats to free speech is tons and tons of speech that will be found disagreeable by those making the threats. Why not Blog about Brett Kimberlin Month?

stvnscott on June 8, 2012 at 11:30 AM

Do you know who Eric Clapton is? JJ Cale?

I heard EC comment on Cale’s style a few decades ago, saying he learned from listening to JJ that he found what a guitarist chooses to not play is more telling to him than what he does play.

I didn’t/don’t completely agree with what EC said, but I understood his point, and, in the present case of Kimberlin, I can’t find fault at all with the bloggers who are restraining themselves as a one-time event, as they believe the contrast they’re setting up between their normal expression and today’s silence will help bring attention to the speech issue…

Bizarro No. 1 on June 8, 2012 at 2:04 PM

slickwillie2001 on June 8, 2012 at 1:32 PM

Yeah, bad timing too. Ace just had to do something, I guess, and he apparently didn’t bother to get any feedback before he went forward.

batterup on June 8, 2012 at 1:38 PM

Not saying Ace’s protest won’t do any good, I just think there were more effective ways to go about it.

novaculus on June 8, 2012 at 2:07 PM

The judge in that case clearly had no business judging the case. It was bizarre how he readily dismissed anything Walker had to say, even going so far as to ignore relevant precedents. Kimberlin is a slime ball, and his using the courts and the legal system to harass someone he disagrees with is despicable. But he’s also a lucky slime ball, and unless the entire court system is full of judges with no understanding of how the internet works, and no respect for the first amendment, this is going to get reversed PDQ.

Ed, thank you for writing about the day of silence, now PLEASE help us get the word out. This sort of abuse must NOT be tolerated.

Book on June 8, 2012 at 2:18 PM

Um, sounds like pretty open and shut, in the opposite of what the judge ruled. So, how about some follow-through and see an incompetent judge impeached?

IrishEyes on June 8, 2012 at 3:10 PM

On CNN just now:

Conservative bloggers decry ‘swatting’
Claim they’re being targted with fake 911 calls

Claim? Ok, baby steps. Baby steps….

apostic on June 8, 2012 at 3:25 PM

GayPatriot hasn’t posted all day. I’m DMing him on Twitter to see if he is joining the protest.

BigGator5 on June 8, 2012 at 3:26 PM

Instead, he views it as just another dispute between two peons who can’t get along and are wasting his time and court resources with their squabbles. He knew what he was going to do five minutes into that hearing, and Walker was only aggravating him by arguing his case and providing legal precedent (Supreme Court precedent!) that would have interfered with his decision.

I very much had that impression. The judge assumed this was just one guy harassing another, and Kimberlin fed that impression well. He pegged Aaron Walker as a nuisance and treated him as such.

I fault Walker for not arranging to be represented by local counsel, skilled and familiar with those courts and judges. He got railroaded by a con man and a fool in black robes. I don’t think it would have happened if he had been there with a lawyer the judge respected, not that his failure to retain counsel excuses the judge’s injudicious misconduct.

novaculus on June 8, 2012 at 12:58 PM

I think Walker viewed it as a nuisance that shouldn’t require hiring another lawyer. Lawyers sometimes trust to their own ability to handle their own case rather than hiring representation, and it sometimes backfires. Leading to the old legal saying, something like “He who represents himself has a fool for a client.”

If Walker had a different lawyer representing himself, he probably would have been taken more seriously, even if his lawyer did nothing different in the handling of the case.

The judge had his mind made up.

tom on June 8, 2012 at 3:49 PM

I think Walker viewed it as a nuisance that shouldn’t require hiring another lawyer.

tom on June 8, 2012 at 3:49 PM

He’s also out of a job and already $7K in the hole for legal expenses brought on by Kimberlin’s harassment. He may simply have not wanted to spend the money, given his current situation.

J.E. Dyer on June 8, 2012 at 4:27 PM

He may simply have not wanted to spend the money, given his current situation.

J.E. Dyer on June 8, 2012 at 4:27 PM

In hindsight, clearly a false economy. He should not have underestimated Kimberlin. And given Kimberlin’s history of doing exactly what he did here, his moves were entirely predictable.

novaculus on June 8, 2012 at 5:11 PM

He should not have underestimated Kimberlin. And given Kimberlin’s history of doing exactly what he did here, his moves were entirely predictable.

novaculus on June 8, 2012 at 5:11 PM

That’s easy for you to say when it’s not your ass on the line, Butch.

gryphon202 on June 8, 2012 at 6:00 PM

gryphon202 on June 8, 2012 at 6:00 PM

You don’t know what you’re talking about. Been there, done that. I worked for years in a PD job that county Democrats wanted to give to someone willing to kick back into the judge’s campaign funds, which I refused to do. Every move I made was scrutinized to find a reason to fire me, and several attempts were made.

Only when I went to court, I didn’t represent myself. I hired an attorney. He was also Dean of the V********* University School of Law. We kicked ass. The county always wound up paying his fees, too. But then, I have always been a firm believer in bringing guns to a knife fight.

As for you, I recommend you learn to use that mighty brain better before you post crap that reveals your foolishness again.

novaculus on June 8, 2012 at 6:59 PM

You don’t know what you’re talking about. Been there, done that. I worked for years in a PD job that county Democrats wanted to give to someone willing to kick back into the judge’s campaign funds, which I refused to do. Every move I made was scrutinized to find a reason to fire me, and several attempts were made.

Only when I went to court, I didn’t represent myself. I hired an attorney. He was also Dean of the V********* University School of Law. We kicked ass. The county always wound up paying his fees, too. But then, I have always been a firm believer in bringing guns to a knife fight.

As for you, I recommend you learn to use that mighty brain better before you post crap that reveals your foolishness again.

novaculus on June 8, 2012 at 6:59 PM

My foolishness? I’m not the one treating this like it’s some sort of blogwar bullshit, like it’s some kind of routine case. Your job was on the line. Fine. But did you ever think you were going to get tossed in JAIL for exercising your first amendment rights?! Did you fear for your life not knowing if/when your fellow officers were going to kick in your door thinking you had shot someone?

Accuse me of being overly-sensitive to other people’s plight. Fine. I’ll say your full of shit and we can agree to disagree. But to compare Stacy’s, Patrick’s, and Aaron’s respective plight to your own does a disservice to yourself and them. Until you’re literally forced to flee your home under cover of darkness (like Stacy) or you have red-hot guns drawn on you by cops that think you might have just killed someone (like Patrick), you’re far better-off keeping the self-righteous preening to a minimum.

gryphon202 on June 8, 2012 at 7:07 PM

gryphon202 on June 8, 2012 at 7:07 PM

Once again, you don’t know what you are talking about. In fact, my public battle against the corruption in the system had my closest associates deeply concerned about my personal safety. At stake were about 50 valuable patronage PD jobs that meant plums to dole out and tens of thousands of dollars a year in campaign contributions. At one point, after a judge threatened to suspend me, I decided to strike first and sued every judge in the county with criminal jurisdiction, the county and the State of Indiana. The reaction was about what you would expect.

We are talking about one of the most corrupt and crime-ridden counties in the country, and while not common there is a history of politically motivated murder here. Jay Given, the father of a friend who attended law school with me was killed in a politically motivated murder in East Chicago. Certainly there is intimidation and retaliation of all kinds against anyone who threatens the political order in this one party system. Frankly, I was more concerned about other efforts to get at me, like trying to set me up for bogus ethics charges. (That didn’t work either.) As a PD, I was semi-independent, so I did my job, kept records to prove it, and tried very hard not to make one single mistake they could use to get me. But I carried a gun every day, and not just because I didn’t want to get car jacked in the Gary war zone. (The federal BK court had a string of bullet holes lacing the front of the building.) In fact, I was the last civilian authorized to carry in the courthouse. I qualified just like a deputy sheriff on their range. Never came to violence, but I got a beater to drive to the courthouse after the third key job.

As for Walker, Kimberlin had already cost him a job and already tried to have him jailed. How much more warning did he need to understand what Kimberlin was capable of doing?

I haven’t thought about those days in a long time. I’m getting cranked up just thinking about it. I’m glad they are behind me.

I will waste no more time on you.

novaculus on June 8, 2012 at 7:53 PM

gryphon202 on June 8, 2012 at 7:07 PM

And that is how to properly lay down the smack.

Spliff Menendez on June 8, 2012 at 8:46 PM

I will waste no more time on you.

novaculus on June 8, 2012 at 7:53 PM

Then agree to disagree it is. Where you lost me was when you called Brett Kimberlin “predictable,” as if any reasonable person could have guessed at the outcome of Walker’s brouhaha. The bear of it is, I’m inclined to agree with you that Walker should have hired an attorney instead of going pro se. But treating Walker as if he was stupid for not figuring out what we all know chiefly in hindsight? That crosses a line.

And as for not knowing what I’m talking about, of course I don’t know what happened to you, genius. I know what happened to you only as far as you choose to tell me. But since you know so much more than I do about what happened to Walker and what he should have done about it, I’ll bow to your superior wisdom and I won’t waste any more time on you either.

Douchebag.

gryphon202 on June 8, 2012 at 9:04 PM

I haven’t thought about those days in a long time. I’m getting cranked up just thinking about it. I’m glad they are behind me.

I will waste no more time on you.

novaculus on June 8, 2012 at 7:53 PM

I just thought of something else…

I I I. Me me me. You talk a good game when you talk about yourself, no-class. I’m not sure why you feel the need to talk smack about Walker. I’m not sure why I feel a need to defend him against someone as impotent and small as you. Good day, sir.

gryphon202 on June 8, 2012 at 9:07 PM

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