Dearborn County Law
(Lawrenceburg, Ind.) - A man is suing Dearborn County, the prosecutor, sheriff, a judge and the judge’s wife alleging that his First Amendment rights were violated.
Dan Brewington is currently being held in the Dearborn County Law Enforcement Center awaiting trial on charges of Intimidation of a Judge, Intimidation, Attempt to Commit Obstruction of Justice, Perjury, and Unlawful Disclosure of Grand Jury Proceedings. He was indicted by a Grand Jury in March.
The 37-year-old from Norwood, Ohio writes an internet blog centering around his divorce and child custody case overseen by Judge James Humphrey, one of three judges who have heard the case. On the blog created in 2008, he is critical of the Dearborn County Court system and names those he believes conspired against him.
Brewington’s writings “to bring awareness of what goes on in the family court system” have gained a cult following. He has more than 1,000 members of his “Help Dan see his girls” Facebook page. The blog page has garnered thousand more views.
In the 43-page complaint and jury demand filed Friday, August 19 in U.S. District Court of Southern Indiana, Brewington names as defendants Humphrey and his wife, Heidi; Dearborn County Prosecutor Aaron Negangard; Sheriff Michael Kreinhop; Dr. Edward J. Connor, the custody evaluator in his divorce case; his ex-wife’s attorney Angela Loechel; Dearborn County; and 25 John Does.
Brewington says he was only criminally charged as retribution for his criticism of elected officials.
“Defendants acted knowingly and intentionally without regard to Plaintiff’s legal rights in conspiring to deprive the Plaintiff of his liberty for Plaintiff’s postings on the Internet/blogsite, that any average citizen would consider protected speech and the Defendants took action against the Plaintiff to purposely deprive the Plaintiff of rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution,” Brewington claims in the suit.
The complaint also alleges that Brewington has been held at the jail and denied the right to speak with his attorney by Kreinhop, who as sheriff is the lead administrator of the jail.
The lawsuit also alleges that Brewington’s Sixth Amendment right to a fair and speedy trial has been violated.
Brewington has been jailed since March 2 on $500,000 surety bond and $100,000 cash bond set by Dearborn Superior Court II Judge Sally Blankenship, who soon afterwards took herself off the case.
"To avoid the appearance of bias or prejudice, no judicial officer in Dearborn County is able to hear this matter,” Blankenship wrote to the Indiana Supreme Court requesting that a special judge be appointed to the case.
Brewington has not requested any continuances, but has been awaiting trial for nearly five months. Alternate Judge Brian Hill of Rush County Superior Court, the third judge to be appointed in the case by the Indiana Supreme Court, declined to lower Brewington’s bond during a bond reduction hearing held August 17.
During that hearing Negangard showed that Brewington owes his ex-wife more than $122,000.
The prosecutor also presented evidence that Brewington allegedly asked another inmate at the Hamilton County, Ohio jail – where Brewington was initially held following his indictment - about hiring a person to perform a drive-by shooting on a judge’s residence. No charges have been filed in Ohio or Indiana in regards to the possible threat.
Brewington is seeking compensatory and punitive damages for “humiliation, embarrassment, loss of reputation, loss of self-esteem, emotional distress and pain, and suffering in an amount that exceeds the minimum jurisdictional amount.”
Brewington’s trial on the criminal charges is scheduled to begin October 3 in Dearborn County.