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Spam The Courts Idle

Spamming a Judge Is Contempt of Court 280

Posted by samzenpus
from the I'll-have-your-spam-I-love-it dept.
eldavojohn writes "TV pitchman Kevin Trudeau was sentenced to 30 days in jail because he urged his fans and followers to spam a judge. Apparently the judge (who was deluged with emails) decided that this was an act of contempt of court on the court's 'virtual presence' since nothing happened while the court was in session in regards to Trudeau's courtroom behavior. US Marshals are now trudging through those emails to decide if any are threatening."
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Spamming a Judge Is Contempt of Court

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  • Re:I'm going to jail (Score:5, Informative)

    by HarrySquatter (1698416) on Friday April 09, 2010 @01:58PM (#31792276)

    Did you miss the part where he was encouraging them to do so? This is no different than being liable for inciting others to do any sort of crime.

  • TV pitchman? (Score:5, Informative)

    by UnknowingFool (672806) on Friday April 09, 2010 @02:02PM (#31792358)

    Unfortunately, Kevin Trudeau [wikipedia.org] has another title which no one mentions when he goes on the air: Convicted felon. In fact he was barred by the FTC in 2004 of promoting products on TV ever again. That's why he's now an "author" because he can't sell products. His books however had raised warnings from multiple consumer protection agencies. Most noting that his book Natural Cures "They" Don't Want You to Know About contains no actual cures.

  • Re:I'm going to jail (Score:2, Informative)

    by HarrySquatter (1698416) on Friday April 09, 2010 @02:08PM (#31792442)

    The difference is all in the intent. His intent wasn't as innocent as you are attempting to make it seem.

  • Re:I'm going to jail (Score:5, Informative)

    by HarrySquatter (1698416) on Friday April 09, 2010 @02:24PM (#31792690)

    True, but since when is it possible for something that happens outside of court to be considered contempt?

    Quite some time now?

    So if I am walking down the street and say something to a judge that's walking the other way, he can find me in contempt?

    No.

    Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying this guy is innocent of everything, but I can't see how he's guilty of contempt...

    Because he gave out the private email of the judge and told a bunch of people to flood it with emails in hopes of getting the judge to rule in his favor.

  • Re:I'm going to jail (Score:3, Informative)

    by Jurily (900488) <jurily@NOSPam.gmail.com> on Friday April 09, 2010 @02:30PM (#31792772)

    I was going for first post, what makes you think I read the summary?

  • by pavon (30274) on Friday April 09, 2010 @02:45PM (#31793018)

    My understanding of contempt of court, which wikipedia confirms is that the following have to be shown
    * Existence of a lawful order
    * The contemnor's knowledge of the order
    * The contemnor's ability to comply
    * The contemnor's failure to comply

    The lawful order can be a specific order by the judge, or an existing rule or law concerning the operation of the court. There is such a rule in place - except in limited circumstances, discussing the case with the judge outside of the official proceedings of the court is not allowed. This is to prevent biasing the judge, putting forth arguments to which the other side cannot respond, and limiting opportunities for bribery or blackmail. The judge can be punished if he allows any of this sort of communication to occur, and repeated attempts to contact the judge outside of court have resulted in contempt of court rulings in the past. Furthermore, inciting someone to break the rules of the court can absolutely land you contempt charges yourself.

    The second criteria is where I think there may be problems. Lawyers are assumed to know the rules of court and can be issued contempt charges without warning. However, it is not generally assumed that the defendant does, and it is customary to warn them and only charge them with contempt if they continue. If the judge can't prove that that Trudeau was aware that this action was breaking a rule of the court, then it may likely be overturned in appeal (which is being heard right now).

  • This was not 'lobbying the judicial branch.' I fact, there is no such thing. The judicial branch does not write the laws, you can not and should not lobby them to change anything. They can't. If you have something to say about an ongoing trial, file an amicus curiae brief. That is the only lawful channel for a third party to influence a trial.

  • by HungryHobo (1314109) on Friday April 09, 2010 @03:11PM (#31793310)

    I didn't see anything about the address being his private one in TFA.

    I did see some bullshit though.
    "The court, at that point, was under attack,"
    The court was no more under attack than if they'd received a sack of ink and paper letters.

  • by maxume (22995) on Friday April 09, 2010 @03:19PM (#31793388)

    The most bizarre part of it is that he had supporters.

  • Re:Awesome! (Score:3, Informative)

    by Obfuscant (592200) on Friday April 09, 2010 @03:33PM (#31793622)
    ...it's nothing more than "contacting the judge through official channels to show support."

    Well, that's where the problem is. The courts aren't supposed to operate based on public opinion or popularity. They are a check and balance on the legislature, which DOES operate based on public opinion and popularity.

    You are supposed to have some legal standing in a case before you can file an amicus brief, and that isn't simply emailed to the judge, it goes to the clerk so it can be properly routed to all participants.

  • Re:Awesome! (Score:4, Informative)

    by e2d2 (115622) on Friday April 09, 2010 @04:06PM (#31794070)

    Maybe. Contempt of court is up to the judge and used for anything that disrupts a trial. People should remember that in the American legal system the judge is king and not to be f'd with. You'll get your trial, but don't pretend for a second you're the one in charge.

  • Re:Awesome! (Score:3, Informative)

    by e2d2 (115622) on Friday April 09, 2010 @05:21PM (#31795212)

    Questions you should ask the appeals court. Again, there is a process in place. But a judge can order contempt of court and the law officers must obey. There's no way around that. You can cry foul but remember that you're crying foul to the people who make decisions on what is contempt and what is not. All this "yes but he was wrong!" nonsense doesn't change anything. If you think that you're gonna come out unscathed in a battle with the court because you were "right", well you got a lot to learn. They literally judge what is "right". They'll split your head wide open, metaphorically speaking. Appeals court is your only route.

    But you'll still be in jail for contempt.

    The moral of the story? Don't ever ever ever piss off a judge in America.

Nothing is more admirable than the fortitude with which millionaires tolerate the disadvantages of their wealth. -- Nero Wolfe

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