Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Blogger Aaron Walker Arrested (& Released) In Maryland Yesterday, Is This Still America?

Blogger and lawyer Aaron Walker (aka Aaron Worthing) who writes at his Allergic to Bull blog, and formerly was a contributor to the Patterico's Pontifications blog, was arrested yesterday at a hearing in Maryland on a peace order filed against him.

Where there was confusion as to why the arrest was made, Patterico (via Michelle Malkin) wrote at his blog in the excerpt below, to the best of his knowledge, why the arrest took place.

This post is based on a couple of first-hand accounts from witnesses who don’t want to be named. I have not had a chance to read transcripts, listen to court audio, review minute orders, or see any other similar material (besides two docket entries shown below) that would definitively establish precisely what happened. But I am reasonably confident of the following:

Aaron was not arrested for second degree assault, contrary to some false reports floating around. The rumor apparently started because the deputy who arrested him was familiar with the incident in which Aaron grabbed Kimberlin’s iPad when Kimberlin was trying to take a picture of him. Apparently the deputy believed that he was arresting Aaron for that alleged assault. But Aaron was actually booked for violating a peace order.

It does not appear that Aaron was held in contempt for his behavior in court today. Aaron may have irritated the judge by interrupting Kimberlin and the judge repeatedly (a good reason why you don’t represent yourself in court; you are too emotionally involved). But as you’ll hear below, it sounds like the judge explicitly disregarded applicable Supreme Court precedent, saying he didn’t care about it.

As best as I can tell, the arrest occurred because Brett Kimberlin got a warrant from a judge two days ago, for a criminal charge of violation of a peace order.

I am not an expert on Maryland criminal law, but from talking to people about this, it appears (stunning as it sounds) that they have a procedure there in Maryland whereby any citizen can go to a judge and swear out a complaint against another citizen for a crime. If the judge makes a finding of probable cause — and it appears that they rubber-stamp these things, in my opinion — the warrant issues, without any prosecutorial oversight. Only at some point in the future does the State’s Attorney decide whether the charges are appropriate.

(As an aside, this is my understanding of what happened when Aaron was facing second degree assault charges several weeks ago. As best as I can understand the process, the case was never “filed” by the State’s Attorney. They dismissed it after a video showed Kimberlin had lied under oath about several aspects of the incident. But the charges had lingered on for weeks before they did.)

…So Brett Kimberlin, knowing that Aaron was coming to court to defend against a civil “peace order,” lay in ambush with a criminal charge, so that Aaron would be arrested.

One wonders if this is his new strategy: he sues you for your blogging, and simultaneously obtains a peace order saying you harassed him. If you blog about him again, he gets a judge to rubber stamp a criminal complaint for violating the peace order.

Now, if you don’t show up for the lawsuit, he gets a default judgment. If you do, you get arrested for blogging.

Catch 22. And a nice scam if you can get judges gullible enough to go along with it.

There's more about what happened yesterday at Robert Stacy McCain's blog, and at Investors Business Daily has more on what happened with this travesty of justice yesterday.

Fox News even discussed the case, albeit only the SWATting angle that happened to Erick Erickson and Patterico, including that stunning audio Patterico posted at his blog on Friday.

Brit Hume even Tweeted about it.

So, basically, a retired judge who has no idea how the Internet operates heard the case, and Walker didn't help himself by acting as his own attorney and getting into confrontations with a judge. It's probably not a good idea to represent yourself in a case in which you have a big emotional and personal investment. But, despite all that, Walker walked into a trap that he apparently didn't know was set for him due to this "lawfare" tactic. It was a "damned if you do, damned if you don't" situation.

The judge claimed Walker made and incited threats. In all the blogs I read (unless one can be pointed out to me that I missed), I didn't see him or any other blogger make threats, unless some bonehead made one in the "comments" section or e-mailed it.  That's like saying Ozzy Osbourne or Judas Priest were responsible for a couple of stoned kids who committed suicide because the music allegedly told them to "do it."   From the laws and cases I've seen, (and I'm no lawyer), unless you can point to some specific incitement of violence, the blogger/writer/reporter is not responsible. Some have said that if that were the case, George Zimmerman should be suing a bunch of people for inciting threats against him.

But the question I have, especially after seeing all this yesterday, and the threats to other bloggers who have dared to write about this subject, is what happened to the United States of America we were born into and taught to believe in?  Is it now against the law to report in a blog posting the fact that someone was convicted for a heinous crime, especially when it is a Left-wing activist funded in part by foundations linked to George Soros, Teresa Heinz Kerry and Barbra Streisand, among others?

bloggers, are regularly libeled (with no proof, mind you) as "racists," "bigots," "white supremacists," "terrorists," "Nazis," "fascists," you name it. Why? Simply for the politically incorrect crime of being someone who believes in the individual, in the founding principles of this nation? Is it now criminal to be a conservative and express your view points, as well as a be a blogger or "citizen journalist?"

Some Leftists, like Popehat (hat tip Sister Toldjah), as have Walker and Patterico, have also cautioned against making this a Left/Right issue. It's a good point to be made, because it is a double edge sword you're walking when you talk about silencing people or having them arrested, sued, or lose their livelyhood because you don't like something they wrote. It's not far to fall from Oppressor to Oppressed. As much as I don't agree with far-Left moonbat writers like Charles "Icarus" Johnson or his buddy Markos "Screw Them" Moulitas, I'll criticize whatever lunacy they write, expose their fallacies and where they're wrong, etc, but would not agree with or call on having their First Amendment rights taken from them by force or rule of law.

But it is difficult to make that distinction in an era when we have a President who tells his followers to "argue with your neighbors, get in their face," as well as encourages them to send in reports of websites, media, etc who make "false claims" (read: criticism) about his record, or treats wealthy donors to Mitt Romney's campaign to public exposure as if they're bigger public enemies than al-Queda. Isn't this the kind of behavior and abuse of power that the "mainstream media" rightly exposed during Watergate?

For those who are interested, there is a fund being set up by the National Bloggers Club for those who have been affected by this "lawfare."  It's saddening to think that two days ago, we honored those who "gave all" so that we might be free.  Now that freedom they fought and died for is under threat.  Keep these bloggers who have been affected in your prayers, and support your favorite bloggers, because any assault on freedom of speech affects all of us.

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