[Note: frequent readers know I very rarely talk about my own current cases here, let alone my firm's cases. This blog is not affiliated with my law firm. I moderate it and write my own posts; nobody at my firm has input or approval and the firm doesn't sponsor, pay for, or otherwise support the blog. When I write here, I'm speaking for me, not for the firm where I work. Today I'm writing about one of my firm's cases because it's so central to this blog's subject.]
Today my law partner Caleb Mason scored a huge and important First Amendment win in his pro bono defense of a federal criminal threats case. You can read about it here, at my firm blog. CNN already covered the case here. In short: after a hard-fought trial a federal jury returned four not guilty verdicts and hung 8-4 for acquittal on 16 other counts in a prosecution involving our client Peter Wexler's political blog, which was rife with the sort of political hyperbole that's been common throughout American history and is now particularly common on the internet. The United States claimed that Mr. Wexler's blog posts were true threats against an FBI assistant director even though an FBI agent had already concluded that his prior almost identical posts were protected speech.
Caleb will now be asking the Court to dismiss the counts on which the jury hung. Until that's over, I won't be blogging the case in detail. But I promise it will be worth the wait. Issues to watch for: Mike Masnick of TechDirt as a kick-ass expert witness on internet culture, the post-Elonis standard for intent in criminal threats cases, whether the FBI understands memes, how many agents it takes to search a trailer home (30), and whether something called a "fat man gadget" is, in fact, a true threat.
In addition to being a kickass trial lawyer, Caleb is a very entertaining writer. People who like Popehat would like his Fourth Amendment analysis of Jay-Z's 99 Problems and the stuff he writes on our firm blog. I'm quite proud to be his partner today. He handled this pro bono, and together with attorney Marri Derby and the Federal Public Defender's office, did an excellent job. Peter Wexler — a man with no record, who volunteered at the library to teach adults to read — spent nearly a year in jail without bail because of his blog posts. As I often say here, your freedom of speech relies on lawyers like Caleb standing up.
Last 5 posts by Ken White
- Cracked Drunkenly Paws At Free Speech Theory Again - December 5th, 2016
- Update on The Popehat Podcast - November 30th, 2016
- Lawsplainer: Why Flag Burning Matters, And How It Relates To Crush Videos - November 29th, 2016
- Update: Ninth Circuit Rejects Attack on "Comfort Women" Monument - November 28th, 2016
- True Threats v. Protected Speech, Post-Election Edition - November 16th, 2016