(Lawrenceburg, Ind.) – The Indiana Attorney General, representing the State of Indiana, has asked that the Indiana Supreme Court uphold the conviction of a blogger who ridiculed a Dearborn County judge.
Dan Brewington’s case has gained national attention on websites ranging from the Drudge Report to the Huffington Post. Eagle 99.3 has been following the story since his arrest in 2011.
Brewington is serving five years in prison for his convictions on Intimidation of a Judge, Perjury, and Obstruction of Justice. The 39-year-old had allegedly threatened Dearborn Circuit Court Judge James D. Humphrey – he presided over Brewington’s divorce and child custody case in 2008 – in a two-year, verbose series of blog postings at Dan’s Adventures in Taking on the Family Courts and www.DanHelpsKids.com.
A Dearborn County jury – in a trial overseen by a special judge appointed from Rush County – found him guilty of those counts three counts, plus two more intimidation charges relating to Humphrey’s wife and northern Kentucky child custody evaluator Dr. Edward Connor.
In January, the Indiana Court of Appeals overturned the convictions on the two latter intimidation charges. Brewington is now attempting to appeal the rest of his convictions to the Indiana Supreme Court.
Several First Amendment advocates and news organizations have written the supreme court arguing Brewington’s supposed threats and criticisms in his Internet posts were free speech.
On March 11, the State of Indiana represented by Deputy Attorney General J.T. Whitehead submitted a brief to the court in response to Brewington’s appeal asking them to affirm his convictions. The State has also asked the state supreme court to grant Brewington's petition to transfer, meaning they support the case being heard by the justices.
“While the Court of Appeals reasoned that Brewington’s intimidation convictions were proper because he threatened his victims with exposure to hatred, contempt, or ridicule – which he did – it should have affirmed upon the narrower and constitutionally-clear ground that Brewington threatened violence against his victims, which placed them in fear of violent reprisal for their lawful actions,” the state argued.
Whitehead wrote that Brewington communicated to his victims that he knew their spouses, had uncovered private information about them that was completely unrelated to their professional actions, was learning how to use a gun, and had contemplated arson, stalking, and battery against them.
“Such speech is threatening, and therefore not protected,” the brief stated.
Later in the brief, the state contends that Brewington “is no friend of free speech.”
“Doctor Connor had a right to issue his evaluation (in the divorce case) without fear of violent reprisal. Judge Humphrey had a right to issue his final order (also in the divorce) without fear of violent reprisal. Brewington does not have the First Amendment right to place them in fear,” Whitehead wrote.
The Indiana Supreme Court has set a March 15 filing deadline for briefs in the appeal. After that, the justices will review the case and make a decision on whether to hear the appeal, or if the Court of Appeals decision was adequate.