Thursday, December 03, 2009

Day 1 Of The Hal Turner Federal Trial In Brooklyn; Jury Not Seated, Opening Arguments Delayed, Governor Christie Subpoenaed

Note: You can review all posts on the Hal Turner Federal trial HERE, with the most recent post appearing first.


Day 1 of the Hal Turner Federal trial in Brooklyn, New York on December 1st was marked by jury problems as efforts to seat a complete jury foundered. As a result, opening arguments by both sides had to be delayed until Wednesday December 2nd.

Media stories:

-- "North Bergen blogger Hal Turner subpoenas Chris Christie", NorthJersey.com
-- "Records show feds used ultra-right radio host for years", NorthJersey.com

Hal Turner’s trial was supposed to begin Tuesday with opening arguments, but U.S. District Court Judge Donald Walter, who was brought in from Louisiana to hear the case, changed the schedule when he could not complete jury selection. Walter thought he had enough jurors seated, but after allowing the panel to go to lunch, several returned and said they had conflicts and could not serve. By that time, Walter had dismissed other members of the larger jury pool. The judge then dispatched U.S. Marshals to track down other potential jurors and order them to come to court for consideration to be included in the jury – with the added request that the potential jurors don’t go home and check the Internet to learn more about Turner.

In addition, New Jersey Governor-elect Chris Christie was subpoenaed to testify as a defense witness. Turner’s defense attorney, Michael Orozco, said he hopes to question Christie about whether Federal prosecutors in Newark made a blanket decision not to file charges against Turner after previous threatening statements on the radio or on his blog. Gov. Christie will be asked to explain why he never prosecuted Turner for similar threats against senators, judges and even President Obama. A spokesman for Christie, who oversaw the Federal prosecutors as U.S. Attorney, confirmed he had received the subpoena, but declined comment.

Turner is accused of posting an appeal on his former website calling for appellate judges Frank Easterbrook, William Bauer and Richard Posner to be killed after they affirmed a lower court decision June 2nd to dismiss challenges to Chicago's handgun ban. If convicted, he could face a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The three judges are slated to testify at the trial.

A lengthy article posted by NorthJersey.com on November 29th provides extensive background and illustrates the complexity of the case. Turner was an informant with the Newark-based Joint Terrorism Task Force beginning in 2003 and continuing intermittently until this year. His primary contacts were FBI Special Agent Stephen Haug and Leonard Nerbetski, a New Jersey State Police detective assigned to the FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force. He actually had a code name - Valhalla. The relationship between Turner and the FBI often was rocky, with both sides cutting ties several times. Nevertheless, FBI memos indicate that the bureau had appropriated as much as $100,000 for Turner's work as an informant. Although Turner would not say how much he was ultimately paid by the FBI, he said was earning about $15,000 a month from his suddenly popular radio show and blog.

And that, in addition to the fact that he was an informant, is the primary reasons why he is now anathema within the White Nationalist community. Despite the money he was getting, he would constantly and shamelessly beg for money on his radio program and website, and berate people who didn't contribute as "cheapskates". He would arrogantly brag that "he was the talent, he was the top, and if they [WNs] didn't come to him, they had no place else to go". He would tell hoary tales about burying bodies off the Continental Shelf and embedding dynamite in earthquake faults, then detonating it to trigger earthquakes. We tolerated him, and even laughed at him, because he was promoting our message.

Little did we know that the FBI was telling him to say such things. Little did we know that his first - and only true loyalty - was to the Feds. Now he may be the most hated man in the history of the White Nationalist movement, and it is richly deserved. For the sake of free speech alone, I don't want to see him go to jail, but if he gets off, he better just retire.

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