Hate Blogger Convicted of Threats After Three Trialshttp://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2010/08/turner/
August 16, 2010
By David Kravets
Three trials later, authorities have finally won a criminal conviction against Hal Turner, the New Jersey hate blogger charged with threatening to kill federal appeals court judges.
Turner was convicted in federal court in Brooklyn on Friday of threatening to assault or murder a federal official or judge, and faces a maximum 10-year prison term under the law, with a likely 10 to 16 months under federal sentencing guidelines. His sentencing date has not been set.
He blogged at turnerradionetwork.blogspot.com that the three judges of the Chicago-based 7th U.S. Circuit of Appeals should be “killed” for upholding a Chicago handgun ban last year.
“Let me be the first to say this plainly: These judges deserve to be killed. Their blood will replenish the tree of liberty. A small price to pay to assure freedom for millions,” the 47-year-old blogger wrote.
He also posted addresses, photos, maps and other identifying information about Chief Judge Frank Easterbrook and Judges Richard Posner and William Bauer.
The first mistrial was in December and the other in March after jurors were hopelessly deadlocked. Juries in the second and third trial heard testimony from the judges who said they felt threatened by Turner’s writings.
Turner, who was jailed following the verdict, claimed he was a Federal Bureau of Investigation informant (.pdf) paid to disseminate right-wing rhetoric. Facing up to a decade in prison if convicted, Turner maintained the First Amendment protected his speech.
Patrick J. Fitzgerald, the U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, applauded the verdict.
“There is no place in society for threatening federal judges with violence. Period,” he said in a statement. “We are grateful that the jury saw these threats for what they were and rejected any notion that they were acceptable speech.”
Turner’s counsel was not immediately available for comment.
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