Disgruntled Dad Jailed for 18 Months for Sending Nasty E-mails About Judge
In an interesting U.S. case from Connecticut, the husband in a divorce proceeding was evidently unhappy with the way in which the case was being handled by the judge assigned to his matter. In a moment of unbridled anger, he sent a private e-mail about the judge to several of his friends, essentially threatening to shoot her. The e-mail described where the judge lived “with her boys and nanny”, and added that there are:
“…245 yards between her master bedroom and a cemetery that provides cover and concealment”.
The e-mail continued:
“They can steal my kids from my cold dead bleeding cordite filled fists….as my 60 round mag falls to the floor and I’m dying as I change out to the next 30 rd.”
The father had also written disparaging comments about courthouse officials, whom he called “evil, self-appointed devils”, and had warned in the e-mail that when those officials “figure out that they are not protected from bad things and their families are taken from them … then the system will change.”
Although the judge did not receive the threatening e-mail directly, it came to her attention through a lawyer who had been forwarded parts of it by a client, and who contacted the courthouse about it.
The father was arrested, and criminally charged with first-degree threatening, disorderly conduct, and breach of peace. The evidence at his subsequent criminal trial showed that he had voiced “strong sentiments” against the judge in the past, by way of other e-mails, in a radio interview, and in his Facebook posts. It also established that he owned four guns that were capable of shooting longer distances.
The father defended his conduct by stating that his e-mail was merely intended to vent his frustrations with the family courts and investigating police, adding that his life and career are ruined due to his divorce and related proceedings. He also raised various arguments based on freedom of speech, but those were rejected at the criminal trial; the court found that although distasteful, crude, and obnoxious words might be protected by the U.S. Constitution, words that amount to a threat that “carries fear and disrupts a person’s sense of safety and security” will still be criminally punishable.
Although the 50-year old father of two was described as a loving dad, hardworking, intelligent, and an active volunteer in the community, his lawyer’s calls for leniency were rejected partly because had had shown no remorse over his conduct. He was ultimately sentenced to five years’ imprisonment, with all but 18 months suspended.
In response to his sentence, the father stated: “I’m OK with what I have to face,” adding that “It’s my children that are suffering.”
For the full text of this U.S. decision, read here.