Friday, February 05, 2010
Judge James Turk Dismisses Guilty Verdict Against Bill White In The Richard Warman Case, Upholds Remaining Three Verdicts; Sentencing On April 14th
In response to a motion to acquit submitted by Bill White's attorneys on December 18th, 2009, the day he was convicted by a Roanoke jury on four of seven counts, Judge James Turk ruled on February 5th, 2010 to uphold the guilty verdicts in the cases of the two black tenants, the Citibank employee, and the University of Delaware professor, but dismissed the guilty verdict in the case of Canadian professional anti-racist Richard Warman. Full story published in the Roanoke Times. New Stormfront thread HERE, ongoing VNN Forum thread HERE.
You can read Judge Turk's 32-page ruling HERE.
The outcome of each case has rested on a factual and legal analysis of what White said, and whether his actions crossed the line between protected speech and illegal threats. Judge Turk noted that, unlike the other cases in which White had direct contact with his victims by e-mail or telephone, White's comments about Warman were mostly restricted to online postings. As such, White's words amounted to advocacy of violence, which the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled is protected free speech -- unless it is intended to produce imminent lawless action.
Judge Turk also noted that other actions by White, including the posting of Warman's home address and telephone number on his now-defunct Overthrow website, were not enough to sustain a charge of making a threat. Judge Turk wrote, "Though the tone of White's postings could not be characterized as light-hearted jests, they are easily susceptible to characterization as mean-spirited ridicule and harassment, reminiscent of grade school bullying -- particularly White's comment that he disseminates Warman's address 'because it makes him so mad,' "
White is scheduled to be sentenced on April 14th. Although he faces up to 30 years in prison on the remaining charges, sentencing guidelines are likely to call for a lesser term. My prediction: Three years in prison (with credit for time already served), a fine, and a mandate to seek psychological counseling.
One common denominator not brought out in the report. In two of the cases where White was acquitted, both in the Richard Warman and Leonard Pitts cases, the common denominator is that both are public personas, whereas the other cases involved people who were not public personas. A public persona is someone who regularly engages in public discourse. Thus, it is possible that since Warman and Pitts are public personas, they should expect to "take more abuse" than private personas.
A VNN Forum poster thinks this trial had some interesting and disturbing implications. What was puzzling about the Warman charge is that a foreigner on foreign soil could have any status as a plaintiff. Whether he received a threat or not, does he have any rights or even exist under U.S. law? If so, then theoretically, the Islamic Republic of Iran could start dragging some biased newscasters or pundits through U.S. courts anytime now. Iraqi Baathists could charge the New York Times with 15 years of inflammatory defamation culminating in mass-murder. Israel could attempt to sue white activists in U.S. court for "incitement" of Palestinians. In the realm of international incitements to violence, Richard Warman vs. Bill White could be anecdotal, but set a dangerous precedent.
The FreeBillWhite website which was a clearinghouse of information on the case has been abandoned and parked. The webmaster, Daniel Jones, has been ordered as a condition of release in his own case not to access the Internet, so he was unable to continue maintaining it. Those who want to help Bill White out financially can send money to this address:
PO Box 8631
Roanoke, VA 24014