Blogger Wants Ind. Supreme Court To Reconsider His Case, With One Less Justice
By Mike Perleberg
(Indianapolis, Ind.) – An internet blogger who served more than two years in prison after his conviction for intimidating a Dearborn County judge is trying to get his case before the Indiana Supreme Court for a second time.
Last month, the state Supreme Court unanimously ruled to uphold Brewington’s 2011 jury trial convictions for Intimidation of a Judge and Obstruction of Justice. Brewington had blogged extensively about the handling of his divorce and child custody case by Dearborn Circuit Court Judge James D. Humphrey and a doctor asked to perform the custody evaluation. Prosecutors said – and justices have unanimously agreed – that the posts went beyond protected free speech and crossed into threats.
“Fear for one’s reputation is often the price of being a public figure, or of involvement in public issues. But fear for one’s safety is not,” Justice Loretta H. Rush wrote in the May 1 opinion for Brewington v. State of Indiana.
In a 36-page pro se request filed with the Indiana Supreme Court last week, Brewington asks that Rush be disqualified from hearing the case, citing a personal experience she had.
Brewington had not raised the issue prior to the Supreme Court ruling.
“After receiving the opinion authored by Justice Rush in this matter, it came to Brewington’s attention that Justice Rush was a victim of a crime involving a home invasion and the attempted murder of her husband by a former ward of the state, for whom Justice Rush formerly served as a (guardian ad litem),” Brewington wrote in the motion.
“Given the already difficult position of the Court to balance First Amendment protections of speech and the safety or reputations of Indiana judges, Justice Rush’s ‘impartiality might reasonably be questioned’ by any reasonable person.
In his motion, Brewington also points out that Rush served with Humphrey on the Juvenile Justice Improvement Committee and that they had graduated together from the Indiana University School of Law in 1983.
Brewington raises three more points of contention with the Supreme Court decision. He said there are new structural errors that were not able to be addressed prior to the court’s ruling last month.
“As the Court did not officially rule that the criminalization of harsh criticism of public officials was unconstitutional or establish the parameters of determining ‘veiled threats’ until May 1, 2014, Brewington has not been able to address the constitutional flaws littering the entire criminal proceedings until now,” said Brewington.
He also claims the justices erred in applying particular case law to Brewington’s appeal when his case was not based on a procedural rule, but on the everyday right of a U.S. citizen.
The blog writer also alleges that the opinion by Rush is “replete with factual inaccuracies and confusion of events in time, many of which are a product of the fouled trial process.”
The Indiana Supreme Court has not made a decision on Brewington’s latest attempt at clearing his criminal record, according to online case records.