Thursday, September 03, 2009

Day 50: Pinkney Still Under Unconstitutional, Illegal House Arrest Enforced by Berrien County, Michigan Courthouse

Article from Alternet: "How Yawning Got One Court Spectator Six Months in the Slammer and Other Disturbing Acts of Judicial Tyranny"

[including the tyranny of Berrien County judges Butzbaugh and Wiley - see #7 below]

By Liliana Segura, AlterNet August 21, 2009

When judges take on airs and lash out in fits of whimsical bullying, innocent people can end up paying the price with jail time -- or their lives.

...where local judges treat courtroom spectators like trespassers on their personal kingdoms, are hardly rare in American courthouses. For all the discussion of Judge Sonia Sotomayor's "judicial temperament" during her Supreme Court confirmation hearing, it is not uncommon to find judges who use their positions on the bench to impose arbitrary and extreme punishments...

...Let us not forget: judges are public servants. They receive a good salary; lifetime medical benefits; and pensions from the very people who come to their courtrooms and who are subject to their contempt orders.

...But while their robes and gavels imbue them with a noble and commanding presence -- and the ceremonial language of the courtroom affords them near-deity status -- in reality, judges can be as capricious, petty and bullying as any other mere mortal.
Below are eight stunning examples of judges who have overstepped their power, not necessarily through bad rulings, but through contempt orders, tantrums and the arbitrary authoritarianism of a petty tyrant.

7. Preacher Cast Demons Upon Judge, Gets 3 to 10 Years

In a somewhat wackier example of judicial overreach involving the First Amendment (also courtesy of Turley), Edward Pinkney, a Baptist minister, was sentenced to 3 to 10 years for publishing an article in which he called a Michigan judge "racist," "corrupt" and "dumb," while also damning him to eternal hellfire.

Convicted in 2005 of election violations, Pinkney was given a highly unorthodox probation order by Judge Alfred Butzbaugh, who banned him from engaging "in any assaultive, abusive, defamatory, demeaning, harassing, violent, threatening or intimidating behavior, including the use, through any electronic or print media under [his] care, custody or control, of the mail, e-mail or Internet."

In Turley's opinion, "it is unbelievable that any prosecutor or judge would include such a blatantly unconstitutional provision in an order."

"A first-year law student could recognize the provision as an obvious violation of the First Amendment."

In defiance of the order, in 2007 Pinkney published an article in which he declared: "Judge Butzbaugh, it shall come to pass; if thou continue not to hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy God to observe to do all that is right; which I command thee this day, that all these Curses shall come upon you and your family, curses shalt be in the City of St. Joseph and Cursed shalt thou be in the field, cursed shall come upon you and your family and overtake thee; cursed shall be the fruit of thy body. The Lord shall smite thee with consumption and with a fever and with an inflammation and with extreme burning. They the demons shall Pursue thee until thou persist."

Yes. "With extreme burning."

In March 2008, a different judge found that Pinkney had violated the conditions of his probation, determining that his statements amounted to a "true threat" against Butzbaugh. He sentenced him to 3 to 10 years in prison.

According to the Michigan Messenger, "Pinkney served a year of this sentence before the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan
successfully argued that he be released pending an appeal of his probation violation."

Last month, an appeals court panel "upheld Pinkney's conviction on the election-related charges, but struck down the revocation of his probation and the 3-to-10-year sentence imposed by Judge Wiley."

Pinkney called it "a major victory." The ACLU of Michigan praised the decision: "To our knowledge, this case marks the first time in modern history that a preacher has been thrown in prison for predicting what God might do."