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Spamming a Judge Is Contempt of Court

samzenpus posted more than 4 years ago | from the I'll-have-your-spam-I-love-it dept.

Spam 280

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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No posts (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31792226)

Apparently everyone is afraid that spamming Slashdot would be a Contempt of CowboyNeal.

Awesome! (1)

dmacleod808 (729707) | more than 4 years ago | (#31792230)

First, this is a great thing, spammers should be punished, and whatever you think of our Legal system, it it was it is. Second, Spamming in general should be a crime!

Re:Awesome! (1)

Jurily (900488) | more than 4 years ago | (#31792272)

Don't make me post the form at you.

Re:Awesome! (2, Funny)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 4 years ago | (#31792320)

To: Your Honor
From: Istanbul Gregor
Subject: why to make her wishes your rod weren't yors?

So I shouldn't be forwarding these types of things to a judge?

Re:Awesome! (1)

AthleteMusicianNerd (1633805) | more than 4 years ago | (#31792540)

Thanks for that meaningless tautology.

Meaningless tautology? (2, Funny)

spun (1352) | more than 4 years ago | (#31792826)

Isn't that a tautology [wiktionary.org] itself?

Re:Meaningless tautology? (1)

Michael Kristopeit (1751814) | more than 4 years ago | (#31792898)

liars paradox.

this is not tautology.

Re:Awesome! (4, Insightful)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 4 years ago | (#31792636)

Second, Spamming in general should be a crime!

I hate spam as much as the next guy but why should something that is easily remedied with technology be a concern of government? I'm also not convinced that talking people into sending e-mails to a Judge should qualify as spam in the classical sense. When I think of spam I think of UCE -- unsolicited commercial e-mail.

What's next, will it be called spam if some activist/interest group convinces it's members to flood their Congress-critters in-boxes with messages?

Re:Awesome! (1)

jank1887 (815982) | more than 4 years ago | (#31792750)

yeah, if anything it's a DDOS on port 25 or something.

Re:Awesome! (1)

HarrySquatter (1698416) | more than 4 years ago | (#31792800)

What's next, will it be called spam if some activist/interest group convinces it's members to flood their Congress-critters in-boxes with messages?

Unlikely as that is using an official means of contacting those people.

Re:Awesome! (2, Interesting)

Fuji Kitakyusho (847520) | more than 4 years ago | (#31792816)

There is no easy technological remedy. That said, I have always been a proponent of an expense based solution, whereby it should cost 10 cents to send an email by making every message a legal account-to-account transaction, with the recipient able to waive the fee upon reading.

Re:Awesome! (1)

rudy_wayne (414635) | more than 4 years ago | (#31792834)

"why should something that is easily remedied with technology be a concern of government?"

Easily remedied with techology? You're kidding right? If spam can be "easily remedied with technology" then why hasn't it been eradicated already?

Re:Awesome! (1)

Michael Kristopeit (1751814) | more than 4 years ago | (#31793002)

Second, Spamming in general should be a crime!

I hate spam as much as the next guy but why should something that is easily remedied with technology be a concern of government? I'm also not convinced that talking people into sending e-mails to a Judge should qualify as spam in the classical sense. When I think of spam I think of UCE -- unsolicited commercial e-mail.

What's next, will it be called spam if some activist/interest group convinces it's members to flood their Congress-critters in-boxes with messages?

seriously, you need to think a little bit more before you start worrying.

the judge didn't call it spam... 2 headline writers called it spam. the judge called it an act of "contempt"... so if you want to spend time analyzing the definitions of words, perhaps you should start with that one.

i also don't see how you make the jump to assume that all executive branch members are somehow protected or are destined to be protected in all the same ways as members of the judicial branch.

balances AND checks.

I'm going to jail (1, Insightful)

Jurily (900488) | more than 4 years ago | (#31792232)

Because people I've never met annoy the judge?

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

HarrySquatter (1698416) | more than 4 years ago | (#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.

Re:I'm going to jail (2)

ground.zero.612 (1563557) | more than 4 years ago | (#31792392)

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.

Whatever you do, never suggest that people write to their senators or congressmen! Certainly the system needs reform when requesting people petition the legal system on your behalf is somehow a crime.

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

HarrySquatter (1698416) | more than 4 years ago | (#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 (1)

ircmaxell (1117387) | more than 4 years ago | (#31792652)

True, but since when is it possible for something that happens outside of court to be considered contempt? I would understand harassment. I would understand some other (possibly spam related) law. But contempt? 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? WTF? 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...

Re:I'm going to jail (4, Informative)

HarrySquatter (1698416) | more than 4 years ago | (#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 (3, Insightful)

thePowerOfGrayskull (905905) | more than 4 years ago | (#31793016)

I think it fits. FTA:

The brouhaha began in February, when TV pitchman Kevin Trudeau urged his radio and web followers to deluge U.S. District Judge Robert Gettleman with e-mail so he would side with him in a civil lawsuit pending before the Chicago judge.

The difference here is that it's an email campaign intended to subvert the judicial process. That seems to fit the confines of contempt: "Contempt of court is a court order which, in the context of a court trial or hearing, declares a person or organization to have disobeyed or been disrespectful of the court's authority"

In other words, it's not directed at the judge personally, it's directed at the judge in his official capacity as arbiter of the case.

Re:I'm going to jail (2, Insightful)

thePowerOfGrayskull (905905) | more than 4 years ago | (#31793036)

Whatever you do, never suggest that people write to their senators or congressmen! Certainly the system needs reform when requesting people petition the legal system on your behalf is somehow a crime.

That's kind of analogous, but not quite. The actions of a judge are not (or should not be) subjected to popular opinion. So while the emails were intended in the same way as emailing a member of congress, the intended effect is quite different-- basically attempting to directly influence the judge's decision which is not to be subject to undue influence.

Incited what crime? (0, Troll)

BcNexus (826974) | more than 4 years ago | (#31792602)

Since when is an annoyingly-high volume email campaign illegal?

Re:Incited what crime? (5, Insightful)

HarrySquatter (1698416) | more than 4 years ago | (#31792634)

When you do it through non-public channels with the intent of disrupting a court preceding? This wasn't him asking a bunch of people to file amicus curiae to the court or asking them to write letters to their senators or congressman through official channels. He gave out the private email address of the judge and told a bunch of people to flood it with spam. If you can't see the difference, then there's not much I can do.

Re:Incited what crime? (1)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | more than 4 years ago | (#31792930)

There is no such thing as a "private" email address when your mailserver accepts mail from the world for the address.

Re:Incited what crime? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31793030)

no such thing as a "private" driveway when your driveway accepts traffic from public/open roadways.

The defendant would be getting the same punishment if he told hundreds of people to drive around the judge's house 24/7 honking and pulling into his driveway and flashing lights, etc. /caranalogy

Re:Incited what crime? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31792938)

Exactly - frankly I'm surprised that the guy isn't facing criminal charges of tampering with a Judge. There's probably no case of judicial misconduct here since the judge is not being swayed by the emails to find for the guy, but attempting to influence a judge is generally viewed as a serious crime, especially when it's this blatant.

Maybe they're waiting to see if the contempt charge holds up, and figure that'll be good enough if it does, and if it doesn't they've got a trump card to play...

Re:Incited what crime? (1)

NatasRevol (731260) | more than 4 years ago | (#31793064)

1. How does getting a lot of email 'disrupt a court proceeding'? Specifically, ~300 emails.

2. Define private email. What if the judge's email was a gmail account? What if it was anything but a mail server he, himself, hosted?

3. The actual issue was on his federal computer, so it was his federal government email. Does that change your mind?

4. His email, or at least one with his name on it, is on the Illinois US District Court website.

http://www.chicagotribune.com/topic/ktla-pitchman-sentenced-to-prison,0,5512411.story [chicagotribune.com]

Now, I think Trudeau got nice bit of karma from this biting him in the ass, but I don't think it was legal.

Re:Incited what crime? (4, Funny)

sammy baby (14909) | more than 4 years ago | (#31793024)

You really don't think that an "annoyingly-high volume email campaign" can be legitimately viewed as harassment?

What's your e-mail address again?

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

Jurily (900488) | more than 4 years ago | (#31792772)

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

Re:I'm going to jail (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31792838)

"to do any sort of crime."

What about the judge's crime in abuse of contempt of court? Hell, why isn't there a sufficient check on judge's that do this sort of thing? I realize this is the federal level, but we had in PA a judge that sentenced a man for contempt of court for over a decade.

And when was contacting a judge to voice displeasure about their actions *outside the court room* via electronic mail illegal?

Even if the defendant encouraged it, that's the defendants right as protected under the first amendment, something a *federal* judge should be protecting. If anything, it shows questionable judgment by the judge, of all people. People forget that incitement speech is LEGAL as long as the actions are not forseeable or illegal, AND if illegal, the balance of free speech to the supposedly illegal action is proportionate. iow, even if a threatening letter is found, if the inciter simply said contact this judge because he's wrong, and some nutjob emails a threat of death or violence against the judge, the inciter isn't going to be found guilty.

This just shows judges have gotten out of control. I guess I shouldn't find this surprising--CNN has Jeffrey Toobin or whoever as a legal analyst, who they play off as neutral but who often flaunts common definitions to put a political bent on things (this morning he said activist judges on the Republican side are for gun control while mentioning the Constitution and federal versus state control just 30 seconds earlier--wow).

Re:I'm going to jail (1)

HarrySquatter (1698416) | more than 4 years ago | (#31792874)

And when was contacting a judge to voice displeasure about their actions *outside the court room* via electronic mail illegal?

When it's done so with the intent to disrupt court activities by spamming a private email address?

Even if the defendant encouraged it, that's the defendants right as protected under the first amendment, something a *federal* judge should be protecting.

Bullshit. Free speech doesn't give you the right to incite people to harass others.

Re:I'm going to jail (0, Troll)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | more than 4 years ago | (#31792918)

So encouraging people to use their freedom of speech is now a crime?

Re:I'm going to jail (4, Insightful)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 4 years ago | (#31792322)

Because people I've never met annoy the judge?

If you incited them to, then yeah. Courts don't look too kindly on people harassing court officials. This guy deserves a dumbass award.

Re:I'm going to jail (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#31792578)

It's Kevin Trudeau. Ideally, he would serve his time in a furnace.

Re:I'm going to jail (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31792646)

Ideally, he would serve his time in a furnace.

He's Jewish? *rimshot*

Well it's certainly something (1)

WiiVault (1039946) | more than 4 years ago | (#31792246)

Harassment sounds more like it.

Re:Well it's certainly something (1)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 4 years ago | (#31792404)

Maybe he's not stupid for doing this? If he loses the civil suit then he may have grounds to appeal the decision because he feels the judge was obviously against him?

Re:Well it's certainly something (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31792812)

There are a few other ways to harass judges. Lots of a few other ways. Many, many, many a few other ways. And these ways have existed for a long long time. Like, back in the Unspeakable Dark Ages(tm) before The Internets were invented.

If what you're saying is any bit true, anybody on trial anywhere for anything could get off scot-free on infinite appeals by harassing the judge in some manner, because then they would obviously be biased against him/her. And then harassing the new judge when the appeal goes through. And the next, and the next, and the next, and...

Long story short, the legal system, after all these years of potential abuse like that (face it; he's not the only one to have tried it if he did), has put safeguards in play to prevent that sort of thing from happening. Even more to the point, if that IS what this guy was aiming for when he told his buddies to spam the judge, he's even more stupid than we thought.

Re:Well it's certainly something (1)

Knara (9377) | more than 4 years ago | (#31792426)

Yeah, I dunno if the convoluted reasoning for making it contempt of court is justified, but it's spamming, so it should be discouraged at least.

The fact that its Kevin Trudeau isn't making me all that sympathetic, either.

Re:Well it's certainly something (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31792970)

Contempt of Court is pretty simple. Any action which defies the court's authority or is disruptive to the court is contempt of court. Asking people to harass the judge is being disruptive. Welcome to jail. Apologize and get released.

Oooh boy. (0, Offtopic)

headkase (533448) | more than 4 years ago | (#31792278)

Contempt of court is such a mis-justice in that its application is arbitrary. Basically if the judge doesn't like you for any reason they can take away your liberty. I think a lot of judges themselves deserve contempt but I don't see them being locked up.

Re:Oooh boy. (4, Insightful)

HarrySquatter (1698416) | more than 4 years ago | (#31792344)

Maybe he shouldn't have been an idiot and incited people to do this act? This seems to be a pretty clear cut and easily defended example of contempt.

Re:Oooh boy. (0, Troll)

headkase (533448) | more than 4 years ago | (#31792420)

I'm talking about contempt of court. You can be thrown in jail if the judge doesn't like the way you are chewing gum. Its the judges law when you are in his court not the Law. That is the issue.

Re:Oooh boy. (3, Insightful)

HarrySquatter (1698416) | more than 4 years ago | (#31792508)

That's great, but how does that apply to this case? He was clearly inciting people to do this to be disruptive of the court. That's a pretty clear-cut and easily defended charge of contempt. Your abstract and vague claims have little bearing on the actual matter at hand.

Re:Oooh boy. (0, Troll)

headkase (533448) | more than 4 years ago | (#31792546)

If you refuse to go to the root of an issue I can't help you.

Re:Oooh boy. (2, Insightful)

HarrySquatter (1698416) | more than 4 years ago | (#31792648)

So basically your claim is despite this being a completely legitimate use of the rule that it should be completely thrown out because a judge could hypothetically use it to punish someone he doesn't like? I'm sorry, but that seems completely asinine.

Re:Oooh boy. (2, Funny)

tverbeek (457094) | more than 4 years ago | (#31792738)

And if you can't stay on topic, neither can we.

Re:Oooh boy. (1)

headkase (533448) | more than 4 years ago | (#31792964)

See my comments were moderated to oblivion. Slashdot for all its egalitarian lip-service is succumbing to trolls with mod-points. When you are forced to not discuss wider issues that relate to the story is censorship. If those mods had any semblance of bullshit that is censorship they would have just not modded the comments. Troll? Hah, I know I'm not: 2+2=5 does not make it so.

Re:Oooh boy. (0, Troll)

Explodicle (818405) | more than 4 years ago | (#31792606)

Any way of chewing gum at court is highly disrespectful.

Re:Oooh boy. (1)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 4 years ago | (#31792966)

Criminal contempt charges require that the offense occur in the courtroom (in front of the judge, prosecutor, etc), or that they must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt (just like any other criminal charge). In this case, the second rule would apply.

That said, generally speaking the last thing you want to do is annoy a judge. Within his/her courtroom, the judge pretty much is the law. If you think the judge is doing something inappropriate, you obey it and use it as grounds for appeal if you lose. The reason is not just the threat of contempt, but because annoying the judge means they'll make it harder for you to win. Not just in this case, but in every other case you have before them.

On the flip side, being respectful to the judge can help you out considerably. My one and only time in a courtroom as a defendant (for a traffic offense) I won my case pro se by doing just that - dressed reasonably nicely, addressed him as "Your Honor", and explaining exactly what had happened.

IANAL, but my mother was for decades, and she was always very clear that it never helps to annoy the judge no matter how justified you may think you are.

Re:Oooh boy. (1)

nottheusualsuspect (1681134) | more than 4 years ago | (#31793046)

Deserving Contempt isn't a valid (well, legal) reason for anything. Showing Contempt can get you put in the slammer.

Why is the judge going after Trudeau (0, Flamebait)

harrytuttle777 (1720146) | more than 4 years ago | (#31792300)

In a free society, shouldn't people be allowed to buy snake oil if they choose to. More importantly, why is a state that is trying to protect the population from the likes of 'Kevin Trudeau' and at the same be peddling lottery tickets to those who are bad at math?

Just Curious

Re:Why is the judge going after Trudeau (3, Interesting)

HarrySquatter (1698416) | more than 4 years ago | (#31792332)

In a free society, shouldn't people be allowed to buy snake oil if they choose to.

No, you shouldn't be free to defraud people out of their money. The only reason he is getting people to pay for whatever he is selling is through fraudulent claims.

Re:Why is the judge going after Trudeau (1)

matang (731781) | more than 4 years ago | (#31792408)

they aren't choosing to buy snake oil. they're choosing to buy a product they think will benefit them, which in fact will in no way benefit them in the means advertised by the manufacturer of that product. a lot of scammy stuff is legal (publisher's clearinghouse) but this guy seems to go way over the line with the deception including overpriced books that are at best full of untruths and at worst medically dangerous.

Re:Why is the judge going after Trudeau (1)

HarrySquatter (1698416) | more than 4 years ago | (#31792604)

Exactly. If all of the consumers of his product were fully-informed that they were buying snake oil and then still wanted to buy the product, then yes I would agree that they shouldn't be prevented from doing so. But as you state, the consumers of his products are being LIED TO about the efficacy of the products he sells.

Re:Why is the judge going after Trudeau (1)

harrytuttle777 (1720146) | more than 4 years ago | (#31792698)

OK. Then why is the same state selling lottery tickets to old laddies, and people on welfare, knowing full well there is a greater chance of getting hit by an asteroid, then making a million from the powerball?

Re:Why is the judge going after Trudeau (3, Interesting)

HarrySquatter (1698416) | more than 4 years ago | (#31792756)

Last time I checked the states who run lotteries publicly publish the odds of winning both on the tickets themselves and through their websites. Now if the state was hiding the odds or attempting to make people think that the odds were better than they actually are, then you'd have a point.

Re:Why is the judge going after Trudeau (2, Insightful)

DiademBedfordshire (1662223) | more than 4 years ago | (#31792394)

The judge isn't going after Trudeau, your ire needs to be directed to the prosecutor. It is their job to push the case forward. This judge is upset because

he urged his fans and followers to spam a judge.

and this is clearly Contempt of Court.

Contempt of court is a court order which, in the context of a court trial or hearing, declares a person or organization to have disobeyed or been disrespectful of the court's authority. Often referred to simply as "contempt", such as a person "held in contempt", it is the judge's strongest power to impose sanctions for acts which disrupt the court's normal process. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Contempt_of_court [wikipedia.org]

Re:Why is the judge going after Trudeau (1)

harrytuttle777 (1720146) | more than 4 years ago | (#31792614)

OK. Why is the state, and it's publicly funded prosecutor going after Trudeau.

Re:Why is the judge going after Trudeau (1)

HarrySquatter (1698416) | more than 4 years ago | (#31792676)

For using fraudulent claims to peddle products.

Re:Why is the judge going after Trudeau (1)

harrytuttle777 (1720146) | more than 4 years ago | (#31792788)

OK. So the next time my favorite politician says that he is going to make it all better, and that the only thing i have to do is give him my vote, can we get the state to sue her/him when it does not work out.

When are people going to be held accountable for their own bad decisions. People are adults

Re:Why is the judge going after Trudeau (1)

HarrySquatter (1698416) | more than 4 years ago | (#31792822)

When are people going to be held accountable for their own bad decisions. People are adults

People are held accountable for their own bad decisions as long as they made those decisions without being defrauded by the other party.

Re:Why is the judge going after Trudeau (2, Insightful)

Ohio Calvinist (895750) | more than 4 years ago | (#31792858)

To use the literal case of "snake oil"-- There is nothing illegal about selling snake oil, in and of itself (unless it were to be a dangerous product.) The legal issue is that a snake oil salesman implies that it "performs" some feat (implied warranty for a particular purpose). If the snake oil salesman truly believes that it works, but it can be proven that it does not, he has misrepresented the product. If the snake oil salesman knows it doesn't work, and claims that it does, then he is committing fraud. If a person choose to use this product and did not gain the advertised result, then most people would at least agree they are entitled to a refund or, maybe even damages that resulted due to use. In the case of Mr. Trudeau, it is alleged that his claims are false. Because customers are buying his book "for the purpose of implementing his 'treatments'" the book carries an implied warranty that the content of the text is fit for a particular purpose. If you bought the plans to assemble a boom-box from parts at Radio Shack, and were told that the plans worked, and you followed them properly and it did not produce a boom-box, you could claim that the product did not meet its implied warranty duties. If customers were buying his book for entertainment, not any particular purpose, all the book would need to have is "words" in some narrative format. If he said "I am selling an international anthology of alternative medical practices for historical, literary, or critical purposes" [and it's not my fault if you try them, and should they work, good for you] or "I am selling an international anthology of medical research that is the sole opinion of the individual authors" then it would be a different case. However, someone would have to first make a successful claim that the treatment does not work, or that harm was done by not using an alternative treatment, or harm was directly done by the product (which addresses another issue of strict liability.) In this case, the government is making such a claim, right or wrong. If he was not selling the book, but made it freely available, it would be a pure free-speech issue, which is a much more open to interpretation than fraud or misrepresentation in a transaction.

When are massive numbers of emails simply speech? (5, Insightful)

drDugan (219551) | more than 4 years ago | (#31792308)

Lots of times "spam" represents an attack, DDS, harassment, unsolicited advertising etc. These are a problem, and people rightly want this controlled.

But if I ask all my friends to send emails, and thousands of individuals all reply, I would think that is more like speech, a la "free speech". Nothing in TFA says the emails were threatening or trying to harm the judge.

Re:When are massive numbers of emails simply speec (1)

Conchobair (1648793) | more than 4 years ago | (#31792428)

The difference is that this was not a publicly available email adress. Trudeau gave out the judges email to his followers and encouraged them to contact the judge. The judge does have a publicly listed phone number available for those that wish to contact him.

Re:When are massive numbers of emails simply speec (1)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 4 years ago | (#31792678)

The difference is that this was not a publicly available email adress.

So? Was he ordered not to disclose the address? I've been a party to lawsuits before and received private e-mail addresses of the Judge and attorneys. I've never been asked nor ordered not to disclose those addresses.

Re:When are massive numbers of emails simply speec (4, Insightful)

spun (1352) | more than 4 years ago | (#31793034)

Anyone can file an amicus curiae brief if they have something to say regarding a trial. That is the proper channel of communications. If I had a bunch of people protest outside a judge's house, or send tons of snail mail, that would also likely be judged as contempt. That's not how we conduct law in America. And before you scream 'free speech,' remember, the content of your speech is protected, not the delivery method. Free speech does not give you the right to force your speech on others. This is what Kevin the previously convicted felon did when he told his followers to fill the judge's personal email with unsolicited comments on a pending case. He tried to force his views on the judge, not the court, and therefore the judge is perfectly within the law to rule contempt.

Re:When are massive numbers of emails simply speec (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31792492)

When they're a natural result of people's desire to make their opinions known, versus an act designed and intended to get people to overwhelm one person with a deluge of communications.

Apparently the judge decided this was the latter, not the former.

Sometimes they do that.

Re:When are massive numbers of emails simply speec (4, Insightful)

paeanblack (191171) | more than 4 years ago | (#31792516)

But if I ask all my friends to send emails, and thousands of individuals all reply, I would think that is more like speech, a la "free speech". Nothing in TFA says the emails were threatening or trying to harm the judge

Free speech guarantees you the opportunity to say what you wish, but it does not let you force the audience to listen. The content of what you say is protected, but the manner in which you say it is not. If you are choosing your delivery method in a manner specifically to harass others, you are not eligible for free speech protections.

Your rights only go so far as they do not impinge on the rights of others...you cannot force people to listen to you.

Re:When are massive numbers of emails simply speec (0)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | more than 4 years ago | (#31793010)

Your rights only go so far as they do not impinge on the rights of others...you cannot force people to listen to you.

Then perhaps the judge needs to learn how to setup mail filters instead of whining about people he doesn't want emailing him.

Re:When are massive numbers of emails simply speec (3, Insightful)

rolfwind (528248) | more than 4 years ago | (#31792534)

What if you were on trial and asked your friends to fill the presiding judge's mailbox or worse, congregate and protest in front of his house. The message isn't being restricted, just this very targeted delivery.

Also, the judge has no duty to listen (3, Insightful)

Oxford_Comma_Lover (1679530) | more than 4 years ago | (#31792536)

It's not free speech in a public forum, and the public doesn't have a right to address the court, at least not without going through certain channels. They need to be able to file an amicus brief under the rules of the jurisdiction if they want to speak to the judge on the issue the court is deciding. But the judge doesn't have to listen; courts aren't democratic. If you want to overturn a court democratically, you're supposed to do it through the legislature.

Ex-parte Communication (5, Informative)

pavon (30274) | more than 4 years ago | (#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).

I Urge People To (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31792348)

write A Letter on behalf of First_Name Last_Name and mail it via the U.S. Postal Service to the judge.

Yours In Bishkek,
Kilgore Trout .

TV pitchman? (5, Informative)

UnknowingFool (672806) | more than 4 years ago | (#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:TV pitchman? (1)

HarrySquatter (1698416) | more than 4 years ago | (#31792382)

Yep, the first person I'm going to choose to buy products from is someone who has a history of credit card fraud. It's rather sad how many idiots pay for the schlock he peddles.

Re:TV pitchman? (1)

PhxBlue (562201) | more than 4 years ago | (#31792470)

Your signature line is especially appropriate for this discussion. :)

And cue anonymous (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31792398)

in

3... 2... 1...

Go go Gadget 4chan go!

So what's his new email?

Kevin Trudeau is a mass-illusionist and a scammer. (5, Interesting)

MindPrison (864299) | more than 4 years ago | (#31792424)

I remember that guy, from TV-Shop, many years ago. When I was young and impressionable (read: stupid).

I bought a set of 8 tapes, called Mega-Memory. Kevin gave a few smart "initial pointers" on how you could memorise things really quickly by using the "peg system", associating an item or a "doing" with something (an item) etc, or a situation. And he used catchy sentences like this:

"Everyone remembers faces, right, but names? Oh - I remember his name, but what's his face like? (Everyone in the audience laughs and agrees)" And goes on by telling us we can remember anything by using his mega-mind system. Which is utterly bullshit, because once you get to advanced formulas, actual stories etc. you won't remember squat anyway, not anything extra with his system. With his system, you may improve to remember 20 SIMPLE items instead of ...say 10...

He's well known for scams like this, take some 10% truth things (which most people agree too, and understand immediately) to sell something thats a complete lie - based on that 10% of truth (which you got for free, in the infomercial in the first place).

It's like people who win because they tell HALF-truths, because everyone understands the first part, the second part must also be true? Right? Wrong! Thats how people like him scams millions across the world.

Doesn't sound like there is any CoC here. (2, Interesting)

Ustice (788261) | more than 4 years ago | (#31792588)

This sounds more like a care of civil disobedience and protest. As long as he didn't encourage people to threaten the judge, I don't see anything wrong here. If your filters can't handle this, sounds like a personal problem. How many times have you heard something like, "Let your voice be heard. Contact your local Representative, Senator, etc.?"

Re:Doesn't sound like there is any CoC here. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31792706)

While I agree with almost everything you are saying, I do feel the need to point out that no filters should be filtering out justified, non-spam email. As long as these people weren't sending a form letter to the Judge, then he likely would and should receive them all (by designation that it's not technically spam, just an email on the same topic as a lot of other people).

Regardless of that, would he have been put in contempt had all of those people mailed a letter? Simply doing so on the basis that it's email is a bit ridiculous.

Re:Doesn't sound like there is any CoC here. (2, Interesting)

HarrySquatter (1698416) | more than 4 years ago | (#31792780)

Regardless of that, would he have been put in contempt had all of those people mailed a letter? Simply doing so on the basis that it's email is a bit ridiculous.

If he had asked them to mail a letter to the court through an official channel, probably not. In this case he was having people spam the judge through a private email address.

Re:Doesn't sound like there is any CoC here. (2, Insightful)

HarrySquatter (1698416) | more than 4 years ago | (#31792712)

How many times have you heard something like, "Let your voice be heard. Contact your local Representative, Senator, etc.?"

But such campaigns such as that is using an official channel to voice your complaints. Kevin Trudeau gave out the private email of the judge and was telling people to spam it. Do you see the difference now?

Re:Doesn't sound like there is any CoC here. (1)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | more than 4 years ago | (#31793026)

No. A Judge's email address is an official channel, unless it's his personal email account (in which case, I could understand the problem).

Threats or action (1)

AthleteMusicianNerd (1633805) | more than 4 years ago | (#31792628)

If one were going to actually inflict harm upon another, why would they give them a heads up with a threat? You'd think they'd just do it. Ever notice in horror films that the guy who says "I'm gonna kill you" is always the one being killed. You'd almost think that a threat is an indication someone's not going to commit a crime. "Excuse me sir, I'm going to rob your convenient store at 11pm"...wtf?!?

Lobbying the Judicial vs. Legislative Branches? (1)

AtlantaSteve (965777) | more than 4 years ago | (#31792688)

Just to play devil's advocate to some of the comments thus far... I wonder how people would differentiate this from political lobbying. This guy had a court case pending before the judge, and asked his followers to write the judge in hopes that it will sway the judge's impartial decision-making. Large special interest organizations ask their followers to write Congressmen, in hopes that it will sway the legislator's impartial decision-making.

What's the difference between lobbying a government's judicial branch, as opposed to lobbying the legislative branch? I'm not necessarily saying that there ISN'T an enormous difference between these two things... I'm just curious what kind of answers I'd get by posing the question.

Re:Lobbying the Judicial vs. Legislative Branches? (1)

HarrySquatter (1698416) | more than 4 years ago | (#31792732)

One is using an official public channel while Kevin Trudeau was having people spam the judge through a private email account.

Re:Lobbying the Judicial vs. Legislative Branches? (1)

AtlantaSteve (965777) | more than 4 years ago | (#31793006)

One is using an official public channel while Kevin Trudeau was having people spam the judge through a private email account.

No, the article did not say that it was private email account. Presumably, this was his taxpayer-funded public email address. I pulled up his profile page on the District Court's website... and while it doesn't list his email address (at least not anymore!), it does still provide contact information such as the direct telephone line to his chambers.

At a high level, we assume that it's immoral or unjust to lobby a judge, in hopes that pressure will overcome his or her sense of justice and public policy. Meanwhile, we find it (more or less) totally acceptable to lobby a legislator, in hopes that pressure will overcome his or her sense of justice and public policy. Assuming that the channels in both case are public and valid, what's the fundamental difference?

Re:Lobbying the Judicial vs. Legislative Branches? (1)

jittles (1613415) | more than 4 years ago | (#31792824)

Well I think the main difference is that judges are supposed to follow the law as its written and not sway to public sentiment. The legislative branch is supposed to be the voice of the people.

Re:Lobbying the Judicial vs. Legislative Branches? (2, Insightful)

HarrySquatter (1698416) | more than 4 years ago | (#31792842)

Well I think the main difference is that judges are supposed to follow the law as its written and not sway to public sentiment.

If that were true then there would be no place for amicus curiae.

Re:Lobbying the Judicial vs. Legislative Branches? (1)

MarkvW (1037596) | more than 4 years ago | (#31792960)

I think it would be like telling all your friends to deliver unsolicited messages to my house. There's no intent to deliver any message, there's only the intent to "paper" my yard.

Scam-meister goes to jail? Whoda thunk it? (1, Insightful)

Chas (5144) | more than 4 years ago | (#31792782)

I'm sorry, schmucks like Kevin Trudeau need to be in jail for the same reason you put violent offenders in jail.
To protect the public from their predatory behavior.
And make no mistake, that's all Kevin Trudeau is about. You cut off one avenue of exploitation for him, he simply rolls over into another. And another. And another.
Until they physically stop this jackass, he'll continue preying on gullible people via any and every means possible.

It's all about words (1)

abbynormal brain (1637419) | more than 4 years ago | (#31792832)

I guess it comes down to the definition of "contempt of court" and what that entails. If you ask me - it's simply ridiculous. But, i guess fences exist for a reason. Keeping the cows out = order in the universe.

yay jailtime for kevie! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31792840)

Yeah, I bought one of his books for Health Cures.. There was not one cure in it.. HE IS BOGUS!

Fans? (1)

pinkj (521155) | more than 4 years ago | (#31792900)

How does a weasel like Kevin Trudeau gets fans by continually scamming people?

Probably because of his background (1)

Bearhouse (1034238) | more than 4 years ago | (#31792944)

Trudo is a blowhard fraud AND a spammer. That's probably why the judge got pissed. See:
http://www.skepdic.com/trudeau.html [skepdic.com]

"The New York state Consumer Protection Board warns those who follow Kevin Trudeau's advice to call a toll-free number for information that Trudeau is selling their name and contact information to telemarketers and junk mailers."

and...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kevin_Trudeau#2010:_Arrest_and_imprisonment_for_criminal_contempt_of_court [wikipedia.org]
http://www.ftc.gov/os/caselist/0323064.shtm [ftc.gov]
http://www.ftc.gov/opa/2009/01/trudeau.shtm [ftc.gov]

Sounds like he deserves whatever he gets...

Why it's contempt (5, Insightful)

Proteus (1926) | more than 4 years ago | (#31792946)

I'm not a lawyer, blah, blah.

All the folks on here saying "wha? But he just asked people to e-mail support, that's not spam!" are entirely missing the point.

You are not allowed to approach the Judge, or ask anyone else to approach the Judge, outside of court and certain other specially-sanctioned venues. It's called ex parte [thefreedictionary.com] , and is only appropriate in very specific circumstances, because - duh - that's likely to be unfair. That's the basis for the contempt charge.

Now, if it had been a friend or two that e-mailed the judge, he might have just warned them off with a "that's not appropriate." But when enough people e-mail to fill his Inbox, it's quite clearly an attempt to influence the judge, and that's not OK .

What about contempt of the people? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31792952)

Is there any offense like "contempt of the people" for judges, politicians, business-greedies?

The judiciary has absolute power now? (1)

aristotle-dude (626586) | more than 4 years ago | (#31793014)

So does the judiciary now have absolute power to jail anyone on whim even outside of the court room? Not even your president or constitutional monarchs have that power.

There must be limits on the powers of the judiciary. No judge should have the power to jail anyone for contempt except those who are appearing before the court. If you are in the audience, all the judge should be able to do is throw you out of the court room or file a complaint of disturbing the peace with the local police. To suggest that you can be jailed for sending email is ludicrous.

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