Judge Orders Man Who Violated Recording Ban To Publish An Essay About Respecting The Court AND To Delete All Negative Comments From Readers

from the you-weren't-doing-anything-with-your-free-speech-rights-anyway dept

Eugene Volokh of the Volokh Conspiracy highlights a very unusual court order that seems to think the First Amendment is only for people who haven’t pissed off judges.

The background of the case is this: Davin Eldridge frequently attended proceedings at the Macon County Courthouse. Despite signs stating that recording devices were prohibited in the court, Eldridge brought in recording devices and recorded proceedings.

He was caught on more than one occasion, with Eldridge’s latest attempt at not-all-that-much-subterfuge-tbh interrupted by the presiding judge. From the court order [PDF]:

While in the courtroom, defendant was observed sitting on the second row with a cell phone, holding it “shoulder-chest level” towards the front of the courtroom. The officer went over to defendant and instructed him to put his phone away. Defendant replied, “I’m not doing anything.” The Honorable William H. Coward, Superior Court Judge of Macon County, was presiding over a criminal matter at that time. Judge Coward was informed that a live posting of the hearing in session was streaming from a Facebook page. Based on that information, Judge Coward interrupted the hearing to issue a reminder that recordings of courtroom proceedings were prohibited by law. At the conclusion of the hearing, Judge Coward viewed the Facebook postings by defendant, which included footage of the inside of the courtroom and the prosecutor presenting his closing argument.

Eldridge was ordered to return to the court later that day to be spoken at by Judge Coward. Eldridge did not do this.

Four days later, the court ordered Eldridge to show why he should not be held in contempt of court for his recordings and his failure to return to the court on November 28. Eldridge responded by trying to have Judge Coward recused. This was denied and Eldridge was given a 30-day jail sentence.

Eldridge appealed this finding of contempt and the denial of his recusal request. The North Carolina Appeals Court affirmed everything Judge Coward’s court had handed down (including Judge Coward’s non-recusal). Unfortunately, this means the state Appeals Court saw nothing wrong with the punishment handed down by Judge Coward — one that looks like a whole lot of imposition on Eldridge’s First Amendment rights and the introduction of some unjustified (and likely impossible) moderation demands.

Along with a suspended sentence and fines and fees, the court ordered Eldridge to do this:

[D]raft a 2,000-3,000 word essay on the following subject: “Respect for the Court System is Essential to the Fair Administration of Justice,” forward the essay to Judge Coward for approval, and following approval, post the essay on all social media or internet accounts that defendant owns or controls or acquires hereafter during his period of probation and attributed to defendant, without negative comment or other negative criticism by defendant or others, during said period of probation…

Compelled speech is fine, says the Appeals Court. Actually, it doesn’t say exactly that because Eldridge never bothered to raise a First Amendment argument. But that’s the end result of this opinion, which upholds the sentence handed down by Judge Coward, including the compelling of speech by Eldridge and — even more questionably — demands he police his post for any negative comments from third parties and remove them. But the court condones this imposition on Eldridge, which implicates not only his First Amendment rights but those of readers of his posts.

Such conditions are reasonably related to the necessity of preventing further disruptions of the court by defendant’s conduct, and the need to provide accountability without unduly infringing on his rights.

I doubt that. The other punishments might be reasonable and not “unduly infringing” but Coward’s court isn’t going to end up any more respected by Eldridge just because it forced him to write an essay about respecting the court. It may deter him from blowing off the “No Recordings Allowed” signs in the future but it won’t change anyone’s minds about Judge Coward’s apparent lack of respect for Constitutional rights.

This is pointed out by the dissenting opinion, which says this part of Eldridge’s sentence is just completely wrong.

The probation condition imposed by the trial court requiring Defendant to write and publish an essay about respect for the courtroom on his social media and internet accounts and to delete any negative comments made by third-parties on this essay bears no reasonable relationship to Defendant’s rehabilitation or to his crime and raises serious First Amendment concerns.

The dissent is okay with the compelled speech — the writing of the essay. This “bears a reasonable relationship” to the contemptuous recordings Eldridge engaged in, says the dissent. Policing comment threads? Not so much.

It holds Defendant responsible for what is essentially the behavior of others; and while there is some truth to the adage that we are only as good as the company we keep, the relevant community in this context is incredibly diffuse, extending through cyberspace. The lack of reasonable relationship between Defendant’s crime and his rehabilitation to the requirement that he monitor comments made on the essay and delete any critical comments violates the statutory requirement contained in N.C. Gen. Stat. § 15A-1343(b1)(10). My vote therefore is to vacate this condition of his probation.

Good call, although the compelled production of an essay on respecting the courts seems just as troubling as the requirement to monitor it for negative comments. Either way, it doesn’t matter. The dissent has weighed in but it’s the majority’s opinion that matters. The First Amendment is no match for an angry county judge.

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Comments on “Judge Orders Man Who Violated Recording Ban To Publish An Essay About Respecting The Court AND To Delete All Negative Comments From Readers”

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That One Guy (profile) says:

If he can't do it might as well pick up the torch...

“Respect for the Court System is Essential to the Fair Administration of Justice,”

Since the defendant can’t say it might as well point out that ‘respect’ for the court system works a hell of a lot better when they’re acting in a manner deserving of respect, and between forced speech and a demand that the defendant moderate the speech of others lest they say something less than flattering to the goon in robes and their absurd ruling, they aren’t exactly showing much cause for respect.

Or put another way, it’s much easier to respect the court system when those working within it respect the rights of those that find themselves before the system in question.

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Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

I can agree with exceptions made for, and during, individual cases (e.g., needing to protect a witness’s identity). I can also agree with certain stipulations on recordings (e.g., not showing the jury). But what makes recording even one second of a court proceeding that would ostensibly be open to the public anyway such a horrible crime that a literal Coward felt he had to violate a man’s First Amendment rights in response?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

needing to protect a witness’s identity

Fuck that. The public needs to know where evidence is coming from. Hiding it destroys the credibility of the proceeding.

not showing the jury

Fuck that, too. The public needs to know who’s deciding things.

what makes recording even one second of a court proceeding that would ostensibly be open to the public anyway such a horrible crime

It interferes with the judge’s traditional ability to rewrite the record at will.

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Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: Re:

The public needs to know where evidence is coming from.

If a witness suddenly turns up dead because their identity was leaked to the general public, well, I suppose that’s life, huh?

The public needs to know who’s deciding things.

It does: Twelve people chosen from the general public. Who those people are doesn’t really matter outside of the court.

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Ben (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

I have been on a jury. And would be happy to do it again.
I would not have been happy to be on that jury (and I would not be happy to do it again) if my name & image were reported alongside the case. There are some nasty people involved in criminal cases, with nasty attitudes towards jurors.

If you want a reasonably fair judicial system, you need a wide range of people willing to be jurors. Leaving them in fear of the consequences suggests you’ll struggle even more to find such people.

Cdaragorn (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Nah, we solved that problem a long time ago. We just throw anyone that refuses in jail. Easy peasy.

In all reasonable seriousness, though, this argument doesn’t make any sense in regards to whether or not someone should be able to record public court proceedings. If anyone actually wanted to go after the jury they can just come in and see you themselves. Preventing recording isn’t accomplishing what you claim it is. The First Amendment concerns here are still very much more important than the perceived harm.

R/O/G/S says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Joe,"the Boston Barbarian” Barboza was the FBIs first golden witness. In fact, they started the WPP just to protect him.

And, that allowed him to murder a few more people, and allowed the Boston FBI on Whitey Bulgers shift to murder hundreds afrer that.

I sure like your idealism about protecting witnesses, even though its batshit crazy.


TopherLHill says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

First of all this was a sentencing to a misdemeanor death by vehicle case which prosecutors famously drag their feet to bring against a politically well-connected, rich brat who killed a girl after running her over while high on heroin and alcohol. In fact, Eldridge found out that the DAs office was planning on dropping the charge against him, after demonstrating a solid history of dismissing similar violations against the kid in the past. Like a disgusting amount of cases. There was no jury. Also, yes Eldridge was warned not to record in court. What you aren’t seeing in the report is that he stopped after that. Nobody seems to be interested in why he would deliberately Do something like that. Perhaps understanding why he was there in the first place might help to answer that. He’s been at this a long time. There was a reason for it. Fact of the matter is, myself and about 15 others including Mothers Against Drunk Driving ALL heard the ADA literally DEFEND the DEFENDANT that day when he said in open court “Your honor the defendant hadn’t driven erradically that day.” The ADA said that. Not the defense attorney. And this brat KILLED a young girl after he drove his big MF F350 into her lane, smashed Into at 40 mph, dragged her body over a curb and across a Kmart parking lot—dismembering the body in front of 30 other people. Including some friends of mine. And the kid just kept driving like it was all good. It took FOUR ppl running out in to the middle of the Parkin lot, getting in front of him and MAKING him pull over before he’d finally park it. Brains, torsoe and all! My friend Chelsey is STILL in shock Over it and still f’d up over it. So yeah… when the DA said that, things got heated In the courtroom. Fast. I remember it was around at that time that the bailiff ran directly at Eldridge all of a sudden and yelled at him and told him not to record. I was two people away from him on the same row and I saw him say something like he “wasn’t sure if he should” or something while nodding like he wasnt anymore and then HE STOPPED RECORDING. Me and my friends WATCHED him. And it had been rec for only 27 seconds. We were that close. That’s what happened. Then like 10 minutes later, the judge interrupted the parents of the deceased during their final statement to defense as victims, and he announces that it had ‘come to his attention someone was still recording or broadcasting in the courtroom’ and that was a violation. He said anyone found recording after the current time, which was 10:20 AM, would be held in contempt. Everybody looked at Eldridge who threw up his hands to show everyone that he wasn’t recording anymore. Next thing you know, the defendant gets I think 50 days in jail for killing someone. Oh, this is a small mtn town. The kids fam owns most downtown, and his dad is the mgr of the state employee credit union. So EVERYONE gets their bank loans thru him, including the DA and judge. The next week, the news hits town that the judge was holding Eldridge in contempt for recording. You’ll notice NONE of that makes it into this transcript. Those of us who were there that day saw what happened and know how it went down, and most of us here in town are well aware of Eldridge and the work he does. He’s been a reporter here covering the courts for a long time. years. He was always the guy that put the mug shots in the paper or printed in courtroom photography of big cases on the front page. That was his thing for a long time. So now what? All of a sudden he forgot how the rules work and just decided to be some trouble maker for no apparent reason? I’m still unsure the details on why he recorded but I know he got permission to cover my sister’s case in advance. Wouldn’t doubt if he did again for this one. LOL But do your homework guys and look up what this man been up to the last few years. His paper wouldn’t let him cover something that ”needed to be covered“ and so he started his blog Trappalachia.com. Ever since then he has been the only one around w/ the b@//$ to report on the corruption going on here for so long. That includes this judge who he Proved was biasd in a murder case… and just a few months before all of this went down. This was a attack on Eldridges reputation. I wouldn’t give a damn about the dude if it weren’t for him helping my fam in 2015. And rly I hate the news, but because he stuck his neck out for my sister it made all the difference in her appeal because NO other news paper would give us the time of day. It’s BS. IDK except this dude tor sure believes in the first amendment of free speech and he is not about disrespecting the courts. The only person who going to die from any of this is prLy Eldridge because he’s made a lot of enemies here, reports and our elected critters for their misdeeds and whatnot.lol

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btr1701 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Fuck that. The public needs to know where evidence is coming from.

Well, that’ll be the end of rape prosecutions if rape victims know that their detailed testimony about how they were intimately violated will be Facebook and Twitter fodder before they ever leave the courtroom.

Same with any sexual abuse of minor prosecutions. What parent will put their kid on the stand if the kid is going to become an internet celebrity as a result?

All so some Anonymous Coward on the internet can fist-pump the air and say "Fuck that! I’m a warrior for the rights of the public!"

Hiding it destroys the credibility of the proceeding.

A prohibition of recording from the gallery hardly means the evidence is being hidden. A full record is being made by the court and the public can still sit in the gallery and watch the trial themselves if they’re interested in doing so.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Dear lord br1701, are you gonna ask us to think of the children next? As others have already pointed out, court rooms are open to the public. People make those court room sketches all the time. Their is no honest reasonable reason to prevent citizens from recording the proceedings other than to control and manipulate the narrative.

Because that happens. It happened to me. In my custody case involving international parental kidnapping. It was the second trial. I requested the minutes of the first trial to prove perjury. 40 vital minutes just vanished. If I has my own recording device it would not of vanished . More recordings mean more transparency and less corruption in the court room.

R/O/G/S says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

I agree with you. Judges manipulate the record all the time.

And, family courts are notoriously political, and the records in any contested proceeding will undoubtedly be slanted, seldom resembling what actually goes on in the proceeding.

Rules are not laws, and should be challenged when possible.

And to those who say that rules are there for a reason-those fundamentally do not respect Constitutional rights, but rather, they favor privileged narratives of culture-the same Monarchist replication of culture that caused our American revoution.

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R/O/G/S says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

re: that’ll be the end of rape prosecutions

Your argument has led to what some call the “two tiered justice system” of kangaroo courts run by ALJs, instead of juries (Most notably John Whitehead, in concurrence with Stephen Baskerville) and as long as you and others advocate for anonymity of accusers, you yourself are part of the problem.

And that problem is the lack of gender equality in America because the paternalistic attitude that women cant handle their own thoughts, feelings, choices and emotions IS the problem.

Anonymity also enables false accusations, and worse.

Many is the man or boy who doesnt report a physical assault or sexual harrassment because boys lives are not taken seriously, or, they are shamed for speaking out.

“Man up” is the common refrain.

So, do you believe that girls and women are emotionally sub-par, or that they cannot handle the emotional weight of their own lives-and their own accusations? That women are ##TooFragile?

As long as people like you advocate anonymity of female accusers,true equality will never happen.

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R/O/G/S says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

Why do you lead with ad hominem?

OK, then, lets test out equality: Easy on the incel insults, Ms. Toofattofuck.

Do insults have an equality baseline?

The same insult you laid there can get a man killed in meatspace:


But with that out of the way, my sex life is FUCKING INCREDIBLE, far away from your British prudery.

That said, I am for equality as stated, and you are not, and you specifically are seeking a privileged position.

Men go through the court system every day. The courts themselves were and are designed to criminalize and penalize primarily men, and mens names and reputations get made into muck all the time.

Men are also framed, harmed, beaten, raped, and worse in the criminal justice system thousands of times EVERY DAY.

So, as I stated, equality wont happen UNTIL women themselves are responsible for their own accusations, and the consequences of those accusations.

Why does that SCARE you so badly?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

Your MRA bullshit is bullshit. There are valid arguments to be made about family courts, but none of them are yours.

Everyone is responsible for false accusations.

If you are so worried about accusations getting people killed, then maybe rando people recording current court proceedings and publicly posting them isn’t such a good idea, fuckwit?

Once again, stop using the the shortened argumentum ad hominem phrase incorrectly. That in itself is a fallacious argument, while complaining that someone calling you a name is a form of tone trolling. This barely begins to address your full pantload of logical fallacies,false facts, and unsupported claims and assumptions.

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R/O/G/S says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Re:

Your sociopathic tendencies are easy to spot, but your misanthropy far more apparent; but you know shitall about the problems of family/ other ALJ run courts.

Lets start with this turd here, from your assmouth:

Everyone is responsible for false accusations

While your collectivist idealism is admirable, sort of like a hippie hugfest at a Rainbow gathering chastising some guy who pukes in the love tent, its not even possible in the real world for many reasons beyond merely your glaring, and privileged biases.

I for one am not responsible for some nutjobs false allegations, because as I demonstrate here, I am active against them, and in fact seek to create equal and accountable space for women to be accountable for their own emotions and actions.

Unlike you, I dont gender the narrative of rape/violence/crime, etc.

As to mens rights, which really rankles your types, whoever you are, well, let me break the good news: human rights are human rights no matter how hard people like you troll to gender and privilege them to fit te script of Abrahamic religion based forever confict.

Now, turning to your sociopathy expressed via misanthropic control issues, we see you here above using a presumptive, authoritarian tone, actually trying to force me to write things to appease your own cinventions, EXACTLY as Judge Coward did in the case above.

To whit, fuckwit, you said:

stop using the the shortened argumentum ad hominem phrase incorrectly

Does freedom of speech, including non-tradituonal arguments of convention so appall you that you must seek to control the speech.of another, and if so, why is that?

Whats wrong with YOU?

People like you celebrated authors like bell hooks for abusing capitalization, but then seek to impose your own literary conventions on me?

Classic time waster. Fortunately for me, I have a few minutes to toss in your ever-empty tinners cup.

R/O/G/S says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

I didnt even speak to that.

But I will: the signs clearly state that recording is forbidden, and I believe that there are also laws that forbid it too.

So while I respect and appreciate the guys activism, hes barking up the wrong tree if he wants to change that policy/law.

But I DONT respect his choice to not protect his first amd. claim, because unlike any commenter here on this forum, I have actually been penalized in the real world, on multiple occasions for protecting that right.

Its easy to be a keyboard warrior and yak about rights from #safespaces, but a bit different in meatspace, where those of us who have been on the frontlines of free speech actually suffer damages.

That guy chose the wrong frontline, and paid the price, like so many others who try to challenge our corrupt judicial powers.

R/O/G/S says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Re:

While I appreciate the mans activism, and completely understand the need to lie to people in authority who abuse their power by default, I dont disaree that the guy was “wrong” in the binary sense.

The mythical prophet Jesus was wrong.
The Marqis de Sade was also wrong.
Daniel Shays was wrong.
Robbespiere was wrong.
Thoreau was wrong.
Martin L. King was wrong.
Gandhi was wrong.
Mandela was wrong.

And then, we find a strange, curious thirty to sixty year gap in the west where there are, nor can there be more perfectly wrong people like that.

Edward Snowden (also wrong) is in Russia, while we “the free” bicker under the watchful FVEYs of power.

And, as TD fanboz and girls like to say, Trump is so wrong too.

We are all so far right, apparently-put the missing comma anywhere it fits.

Bruce C. says:

Re: Re: Compelled speech...

If you are found guilty of a crime, the punishment can include lots of suspensions of constitutional rights. The right to bear arms, the right to move freely…why is speech different?

As far as the moderation requirements, best compliance option is to disable all comments on the required essay posts. Though I don’t see how it would be possible to do that on, say, Twitter.

Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

why is speech different?

Because the First Amendment says so. Because all people should have the right to speak without the government controlling what they say. And because the suspension of certain constitutional rights for convicted criminals should not excuse the suspension of all such rights for such people.

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Wendy Cockcroft (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

….the defendant didnt raise a claim to ENSURE and protect his own rights

Nonetheless, his own and those of his commenters were violated. I agree that the punishment should fit the crime and after seeing all the arguments so far I think a fine for breaking the rules would have been less problematic.

R/O/G/S says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Re:

Madame, with all due respect:

You have obviously never been involved in frontline activism of any kind.

Pecking at your keyboard is a nice start, but get your heels on the ground and things are a bit different-especially for men who challenge our horrific legal system.

And fines themselves can often be more drastic than imprisonment, as John Whitehead, and even right wing scholars like Stephen Baskerville have also documented it.


That whole mindset of “punishment-fit-the-crime” as a routine response is so anoyingly British, stemming from the days of floggings, hangings, and buggery under indenture and manumission, that it has no place in the discussion.

Wendy Cockcroft (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:7 Re:

I actually have pounded the pavement for change. During the ACTA pushback I made my own leaflets and joined forces with local activists to distribute them and actually talk to people to get them to contact their MPs to vote against it. Later on, I was involved in setting up stands, etc. for various causes. I’ve also leafleted for my local political party.

I often hassle my MP politely but firmly over laws and policies I don’t like.

Campaigning isn’t only done on the keyboard, it goes into meatspace a lot of the time because meatspace is where things happen.

R/O/G/S says:

Re: Re: Re:7 Re:

Which one are you, Tit or Tat? Said by no pot or kettle anywhere ever.

But I am in the records and dossiers of quite a few anti-free speech organizations, my darling little troll.

My favorite claim to fame is that time-just that one where my likeness was cut and pasted into a peace march in a city I had never been too, shortly after being tailed by a photographer in sensible flats who just had to get my picture at ANOTHER peace march.

Whats that you say? Oh, never mind, its the gurgle of your shit for brains leaking out your prolapsed intestine.

You forever war types dont want peace, you want supremacy.

btr1701 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Because the First Amendment says so.

And the 2nd Amendment says I have a right to own a gun, yet if I’m convicted of a crime, I lose some or all of that right.

The 4th Amendment says I’m free from warrantless searches, but if I’m on probation, that right mostly goes out the window.

Again, the question remains, why is the 1st Amendment immune from impingement by probation requirements when none of the others are.

And saying "Because the 1st Amendment says so" doesn’t answer that question.

And because the suspension of certain constitutional rights for convicted criminals should not excuse the suspension of all such rights for such people.

(1) No one has suggested a probationer have all his rights suspended.

(2) That still doesn’t answer the question as to what legal principle allows some constitutional rights to be limited while on probation but requires the 1st Amendment to be held sacrosanct above the rest of the Bill of Rights.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

The Second and Fourth are clear conditions with respect to being required to serve a sentence with the kindness of not actually having to be incarcerated. (Whether or not that kindness is leniency or a practical consideration is irrelevant.) You have a bad argument. The fact that the First is abridged regularly in prisons is a problem.

Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Re: Re:

"Why not just issue the dude a fine and get on with things?"

Insufficient retribution for a vexed judge.

What is the cure for impulsively vexed judges? Apparently appeasement by the state appeals court, though that does nothing for the rule of law or respect for the constitution (which does injury to respect for the courts themselves).

A more serious question might be, why the hell didn’t he bring up the First Amendment issue at the appeal? That there is a bit of some very fine lawyering. /s

rangda (profile) says:

Re: compelled speech?

Ignoring the compelled speech issues (which I think are very real), I detest writing so much I’d seriously ponder the 30 day incarceration instead.

Regarding the compelled speech issue: "You have been found guilty of slandering the President of the United States. You must write an essay on why President Trump is the greatest President in the history of the United States, post it on social media, and delete all negative comments. Or face X jail time". Does that make it clear?

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Bergman (profile) says:

Re: compelled speech?

It could just as easily be a political statement. Imagine a judge getting annoyed with, say, Colin Kaepernick getting a jaywalking ticket and ordering him to repudiate the kneeling thing and never kneel again during the anthem? What if George Takei got a traffic ticket and was ordered to henceforth be anti-gay rights?

There is GREATER precedent and authority for a judge to order the above things than there is for a judge to order what this judge did.

Wendy Cockcroft (profile) says:

Re: Re: compelled speech?

Eh, it wasn’t political, he broke the rules. To tell him to write an essay (how childish!) about respecting the court isn’t necessarily political, it’s to hammer the message home to him so he doesn’t do it again.

To remove all negative comments from the social media accounts he posts it on is WAY more problematic. I can’t defend that.

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That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Not necessarily, as offhand I can see a pretty obvious loophole/opportunity, one I noted in my original comment. ‘Respect for the court system is essential, which is why it’s vital that the court system act in a manner that earns that respect from the public, first and foremost by respecting the constitutional rights of the public.’

It would be risky as hell and practically be begging for a benchslap, but given the defendant’s past actions I could certainly see him trying it.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

"I know reading is hard, and comprehending even harder, but this is rather explicit."

Is it now …

I think that one could write their thesis on this topic and not in a flippant manner. One could point out how the fair administration of justice has never been a priority to many of the lawmakers in this country. In addition, one could point out how the courts need the consent of the governed, not the "respect" of the people. These two things are not the same. If one really tried they could write a friggin book.

Anonymous Coward says:

There is actually a lot of compelled speech in the United States. Judges order apologies in juvenile court a lot. People are given sentence reductions for testifying (or testilying) against others. Congress can hold you in their personal lockup for clamming up if you are subpoenaed before a committee. (I don’t know where the Congresses personal jail to hold non-cooperative people is.)

You can also be held until you testify before a grand jury.

They claim to be able to give you immunity from charges for testifying or signing complaints against others but they can’t stop other jurisdictions from prosecuting you anyway.

For a while it was popular to make offenders where signs that announced their crimes on a street corner for a certain number of hours. That seems to have fallen out of favor a couple decades ago but there was a lot of it at one time.

There are more examples but this doesn’t seem to be that uncommon.

Wendy Cockcroft (profile) says:

Re: Re: I must not disrespect the cou...

Hmm. I’m loving this back-and-forth. Whether or not it’s okay is not at issue in the cases of people wearing signs, etc., though we could have a great deal of fun debating it.

Testifying to get a reduced sentence has been happening since forever, as has compelled testimony. However, I’d argue hard against the notion that this is compelled speech as such or the ACLU would have nailed it to the wall a long time ago. As I said earlier the only issue I have with the essay is that it seems incredibly paternalistic, as if the defendant was a naughty child. It’s the suppression of negative comments by third parties, which is explicitly political speech (and therefore fully covered by the First Amendment) that I have the problem with. That is flat out censorship.

Anonymous Coward says:

You can record anywhere in the courthouse that is open to the Public, legally. After all, it’s a public building that the taxpayers paid for. YOU have that right!!! Don’t let the dumb security tell you otherwise.

On the other hand, the JUDGE does have control of his or her courtroom. That means if He/She doesn’t allow recording, there’s no recording, PERIOD!!! By the way, some do allow recording. Sometimes you can get permission from the judge to record. The Judge has no authority outside of his or her courtroom. Can’t just say no recording inside the whole building. There are a lot of clueless security people though that will try to stop you and tell you crap that’s just not true.

In this case, the person doing the recording, warned and still did it should spend a few days in a cell and get a fine. He can go in the room and watch. But he can’t just record inside the courtroom and start recording.

btr1701 (profile) says:

Compelled Speech

Compelled speech is fine, says the Appeals Court. Actually, it doesn’t say exactly that because Eldridge never bothered to raise a First Amendment argument.

This is the key portion of this entire article. First, Cushing says the court ruled that compelled speech is fine. Then when even he realizes that’s too dishonest to fly, he backtracks a bit and says the court didn’t exactly say that. But even that’s not an honest recounting of the ruling because the court didn’t say compelled speech is fine AT ALL. As Cushing notes, Eldridge never raised the issue of compelled speech and courts can’t rule on issues that aren’t pleaded by the parties before them. If the appellant doesn’t raise a 1st Amendment issue, the court can’t just go off the reservation and make a 1st Amendment ruling.

So in reality, contrary to Cushing’s initial claim, the court didn’t come anywhere close to saying compelled speech is fine. In fact, the court didn’t saying anything about compelled speech at all because it wasn’t pleaded.

even more questionably — demands he police his post for any negative comments from third parties

How does one even do that? I mean, if he’s forced to post this to his Twitter account, for example, he can’t delete the comments other people make to that post. You have no control over other people’s comments to your tweets.

Wendy Cockcroft (profile) says:

Re: Compelled Speech

Agreed, but you can block people. That would get the comments off until they were unblocked. That’s the problematic part. If Eldridge doesn’t block those people making negative comments, he’s out of compliance for failing to remove the comments. That’s the First Amendment violation as he would be actively censoring people under government compulsion. That’s not even moderation, it’s flat out censorship.

Now some people will no doubt argue that the negative commenters’ comments can be made on other platforms. Okay, fine. But the speech they’re making, as long as it doesn’t violate the platform rules or irk Eldridge because he doesn’t want them there is being censored because the government is demanding the censorship.

And that, dear friends, is the difference between censorship and moderation: is the government commanding it? If so, it’s censorship. If the comments are suppressed per the desire of an individual acting on their own behalf, it’s moderation.

btr1701 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Compelled Speech

Agreed, but you can block people. That would get the comments off until they were unblocked.

Maybe that’s how it works on some platforms, but not on Twitter. When I block someone on Twitter, that only means they can’t see or respond to my tweets anymore, but it doesn’t remove any previous negative comments I’ve made to that post, nor does it prevent me from responding to someone else who is participating in the thread and posting new negative comments.

Bergman (profile) says:

US Code Title 18, Sections 241 & 242

How, precisely, can a judge issue an order that the government is prohibited by statute from issuing, and not commit a felony by doing so?

Remember, judges are not exempt from arrest, they only have absolute immunity to CIVIL lawsuits for their actions on the bench!


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R/O/G/S says:

re: compelled speech

Well, then he should have raised the first amd. issue, but he didnt. So, thats on him. He willingly or blindly did not protect that right.

Plea deals, ALJ ajuducated matters, family courts etc. all depend on defendants/respondents to NOT raise constitutional claims, so much so that we now live in a due process free procedural police state guided by “high policing” rather than rule of law.

That Coward, on the other hand likely knew that the defendant would not raise a difficult 1st amd. claim , and acted accordingly in the gray area between a defendants willingness ti protect his rights, and the courts willingness to make his life hell for awhile.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: re: compelled speech

Why do judges think its their court? It is sure to hell America’s Court where we as a people, and as a nation hold the ultimate check on our government. They are usurping that by attempting to rack up Americans with convictions without a jury of their peers, but by threat and coercion of extreme penalties. That is treasonous chicken shit in my book.

Toom1275 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 re: compelled speech

According to the ABA:
Unanimously rated not qualified:
Stephen Grasz
John O’Connor
Brett Talley
Sarah Pitlyk*

Substantially rated not qualified:
Charles B. Goodwin
Holly Lou Teeter
Jonathan Kobes
Justin Walker**
Lawrence VanDyke***

The White Houce removed the ABA’s special access to background information of nominees in March 2017, a move seen as retaliatory.

Several other of the confirmed candidates have zero experience in the role of judge.

Another sign of a candidate’s lack of quality is ties to the Heritage Foundation which, naturally, appears to be the primary criterion behind nomination. Aside from espousing corrupt policies, age (youth specifically) looks to be the second-most important factor for these "lifetime" positions, to maximize the amount of harm they can inflict.

*“Ms. Pitlyk has never tried a case as lead or co-counsel, whether civil or criminal. She has never examined a witness,” reads her ABA review. “Though Ms. Pitlyk has argued one case in a court of appeals, she has not taken a deposition. She has not argued any motion in a state or federal trial court. She has never picked a jury. She has never participated at any stage of a criminal matter.”

**“Mr. Walker’s experience to date has a very substantial gap, namely the absence of any significant trial experience,” the ABA said in its July review. “Mr. Walker has never tried a case as lead or co-counsel, whether civil or criminal. … In addition, based on review of his biographical information and conversations with Mr. Walker, it was challenging to determine how much of his ten years since graduation from law school has been spent in the practice of law.”

***“Mr. VanDyke’s accomplishments are offset by the assessments of interviewees that Mr. VanDyke is arrogant, lazy, an ideologue, and lacking in knowledge of the day-to-day practice including procedural rules,” reads the brutal ABA review of VanDyke. “There was a theme that the nominee lacks humility, has an ‘entitlement’ temperament, does not have an open mind, and does not always have a commitment to being candid and truthful.”

Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4

The Constitution sets the legal requirements. The ABA tries to provide some “quality standards” for people who meet those requirements. Or do you want any asshole to be handed a lifetime position on a federal court — where they will be deciding cases that can and likely will affect a lot of lives for years to come — only because they can (pardon the pun) clear the bar of being legally able to serve?

btr1701 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Re:

The Constitution sets the legal requirements.

No, the Constitution sets the qualifications for each office– president, senator, representative, judiciary. They’re actually called Qualifications Clause(s). That’s not my distinction, it’s the Supreme Court’s.

The ABA tries to provide some “quality standards” for people who meet those requirements.

That’s the Senate’s job, per the Constitution.

Or do you want any asshole to be handed a lifetime position on a federal court — where they will be deciding cases that can and likely will affect a lot of lives for years to come — only because they can (pardon the pun) clear the bar of being legally able to serve?

I don’t see why anyone who meets the Constitution’s requirements and is approved by the Senate shouldn’t be able to serve.

We’ve had plenty of Supreme Court justices in the past who served well without even having been lawyers, let alone judges, and who had no ABA "vetting" because there was no ABA at the time.

Wendy Cockcroft (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 re: compelled speech

The American Bar Association sets the qualifications for judges: https://www.americanbar.org/content/dam/aba/administrative/government_affairs_office/webratingchart-trump116.pdf?logActivity=true

The Constitution doesn’t specify qualifications as such: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Article_Three_of_the_United_States_Constitution

But that doesn’t mean any old Joe can be a judge. We expect them to know and understand the law in order to pass judgement upon people in accordance with the law.

Toom1275 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 re: compelled speech

Massacre Mitch’s porpose in recruiting from the Federalist Society is to stack the courts with activist judges programmed to put "conservative" values (e.g.* attacking women, gays, minorities, abortion, immigrants, secularism, etc) above and ahead of obstacles like the law or the constitution.

"There was Brett Talley, a 36-year-old lawyer and former paranormal activity investigator who tweeted about Hillary Clinton being “rotten” and said his solution to the Sandy Hook shooting massacre “would be to stop being a society of pansies and man up.”

"Matthew Petersen, also a 36-year-old lawyer, couldn’t answer basic questions about law in his confirmation hearing and was basically shamed into withdrawing."

"Jeff Mateer, a 52-year-old lawyer who described transgender children as evidence of “Satan’s plan” and endorsed gay conversion therapy, was eventually withdrawn too."

"The ABA, which has reviewed each of a president’s judicial nominees for decades, interviewed 60 people in its assessment of VanDyke ― including 43 lawyers and 16 judges. It found that VanDyke’s colleagues “would not say affirmatively that he would be fair to any litigant before him, notably members of the LGBTQ community.”"

"U.S. Circuit Judge Leonard Steven Grasz, who the ABA concluded was “unable to separate his role as an advocate from that of a judge,” given his strong anti-LGBTQ and anti-abortion views;"

"U.S. District Judge Charles Goodwin, who the ABA said lacked the ability to fulfill the demands of a federal judgeship given his frequent absence from the courthouse in his former role as a magistrate judge;"

"misleading statements by Pitlyk on reproductive health issues. She said Pitlyk claimed in a Supreme Court amicus, or friend-of-the-court, brief that in vitro fertilization leads to higher rates of birth defects.

In that 2017 brief from a case that wasn’t heard by the justices, Pitlyk and her colleague also said surrogacy has “grave effects on society, such as diminished respect for motherhood and the unique mother-child bond.”"

"Pitlyk is a Federalist Society member."

"S. Circuit Judge Jonathan Kobes, who the ABA found “was unable to provide sufficient writing samples of the caliber required” of a circuit judge."

btr1701 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 re: compelled speech

The American Bar Association sets the qualifications for judges:

They make recommendations, not set qualifications. Their determinations are not legally binding– as you yourself noted by the fact that Trump has nominated and seated judges who don’t meet their criteria.

But that doesn’t mean any old Joe can be a judge.

Umm… yeah, it does. Just as California was told it couldn’t add new qualifications for the presidency when it tried to add a requirement that candidates must provide tax returns to be on the ballot, neither can the ABA add requirements for any federal judgeship.

We’ve had "any old Joes" as judges and even Supreme Court justices in the past, before there was an ABA acting as gatekeeper. None of them were utter disasters, as far as I know.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: re: compelled speech

"Why do judges think its their court? "

Because it is?

Ever watch "court" shows on tv? Those are not real court rooms, obviously. afaik, they are arbitration.

The court room, in the us, is not a place where one is allowed to stand up and begin shouting or any other disruptive antics. You are not allowed to blurt out counter points as your opponent testifies and not telling the truth can be a jail-able offense. What is it that you dislike about this?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: re: compelled speech

Uh, they were granted these powers by law since this nation’s founding, for reasons of maintaining order and quite literally keeping people safe. Abuses of courtroom command powers and discretions in sentencing should, of course, be challengeable and challenged.

That’s like asking how dare a ship’s captain or a military officer exercise their command prerogatives. They have powers for a reason. Covering for them when power is abused or exceeded, or saying abuse isn’t abuse, this is wherein the problem lies.

Being pedantic, most courts are not "America’s" court. Those would be federal courts, which are also weirdly divided into districts. Macon County courts and NC appeals courts are certainly not "America’s".

Jefrey says:

Re: Re: Re: re: compelled speech

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Ligoren (profile) says:

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