What do the far right conservative group Eagle Forum and the ACLU of Indiana have in common? They are part of a collection of groups and individuals filing briefs on behalf of Daniel Brewington. They think he got a raw deal and they think that Freedom of Speech is in jeopardy in Indiana. If these two groups, and many others, are holding hands on this issue then you know there is a problem.
The Indiana blogger, Daniel Brewington is currently serving time in Putnamville for being highly critical of the Judge and others in his divorce and child custody case. Daniel Brewington was angry. Most people in the midst of a divorce hearing are not in the best of moods.
Daniel Brewington went online with his frustrations. In his blog found at danhelpskids.com, you can find links to what he felt were relevant aspects of his case. The words chosen for the judge, the prosecutor and for the state's witness's were sometimes reasoned, sometimes harsh and sometimes maybe a bit over the top.
Using harsh words is not a crime and being highly critical is not a crime.....unless you live in Indiana.
Threats of violence and intimidation are certainly a crime, but a section of Indiana's code dealing with intimidation, IC 35-45-2 defines a threat as anything that may "expose the person threatened to hatred, contempt, disgrace, or ridicule." False statements are not specified and true statements are not protected.
This type of scenario should horrify anyone reading this story. Our government officials must be held accountable. Anyone who chooses to serve the public, is elected by the public, or is paid by the State must expect and tolerate being berated by the public.
Is it really wise to allow those who have so much power in our community the power to imprison people who expose them to "hatred, contempt, disgrace, or ridicule"? Dissent, particularly when justified, is seen by many in the United States as our patriotic duty.
A world where the people are afraid to speak for fear of imprisonment is a world where the people in power have the ability to quell protest and ensure that injustices performed by the state are hidden.
There is a March 11th deadline for the State to file their brief. At some unspecified point after this deadline the State will decide if they will hear the case.
In the meantime, the people are coming together on a new Facebook page(Free Daniel Brewington) and signing an on-line petition (change.org petition) to further encourage the Indiana Supreme Court to hear Daniel Brewington's case.
There is indeed two major aspects to this story. One being what most would consider the wording in Indiana's code and the other being the heavy handed and somewhat vindictive nature of a small town legal system that boasts the most extreme sentences in the state and a frequently overcrowded jail just twenty years old with a proposed expansion strongly advocated for by Prosecutor Negangard.
Mr. Brewington was dealing with a Judge who ignored the fact that his record as a father was perfect and decided against the advice of the court appointed psychiatrist who felt that he should be allowed visitation and took his children away from him anyway. Mr. Brewington was dealing with a group of "victims" who despite knowing how to protect themselves through legal channels decided against ever filing a protective order. There was never an instance of Mr. Brewington being in the presence of any of the "victims" who suggested they were scared for their life, but were unable to cite any real "threat" of violence.
Can you understand his frustration? I can.
Mr. Brewington was not trying to hide anything. The grand jury transcript is even available on-line. He put it all out there for everyone to see and judge for themselves.
I suspect Daniel Brewington will fare far better in the court of public opinion than he did in the court of Judge James D. Humphrey.