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The Law Blogger is a law-related blog that informs and discusses current matters of legal interest to readers of The Oakland Press and to consumers of legal services in the community. We hope readers will  find it entertaining but also informative. The Law Blogger does not, however, impart legal advice, as only attorneys are licensed to provide legal counsel.
For more information email: info@clarkstonlegal.com

Monday, February 11, 2013

Blogging Litigants and the Courts

This post takes a look at two bloggers that are on the radar of their respective court systems by blogging as participants in litigation; one is a family practice doctor and criminal defendant, the other a parent embroiled in a family court custody dispute.

Dr. Linda Sue Cheek is charged with over 150 counts of distributing pain medications such as oxycodone, methadone, and morphine without having a valid drug license from the DEA.  She is scheduled to go on trial in Roanoke, Virginia this morning.

Since her indictment back in May of last year, Dr. Cheek has maintained a steady commentary about her case on her blog.  Her comments have included things like: she has been unable to practice medicine due to government collusion; that she and other pain management physicians are being treated by the federal authorities like Colombian drug lords; and that her trial will be "the beginning of the end of government persecution for doctors treating pain."

These comments were deemed sufficiently vitriolic by the local U.S. Attorney, a gag order was sought last week on the basis that Dr. Cheek's posts could pollute the jury pool.  U.S. District Judge Glen Conrad declined to enjoin Dr. Cheek's speech, stating that her First Amendment right to free speech is not suspended because she is on trial.  We here at the Law Blogger could not agree more.

In the family court matter, Daniel Brewington of Indiana has been blogging about his custody case for some time.  Like Dr. Cheek's blog, Brewington does not mince words but rather, takes the direct approach.

Brewington's 2007 divorce proceeding turned ugly early on, resulting in a court-ordered parenting evaluation performed under seal by a clinical psychologist.  The psychologist concluded that, due to the communication breakdown between the parties, sole physical custody should be awarded to Mother.

Dan Brewington took great offense and began to send the psychologist correspondence demanding that he withdraw from the Brewington's divorce case, retract his custody evaluation and report, and that he turn over  his entire file to the Father.

When none of his demands were met, Brewington next filed a complaint with the psychologist's state licensing body and started a blog which contained posts about his case, and his deep disappointment with the psychologist.  Father also posted on other websites, frequently referring to the  psychologist as a "very dangerous man who abuses his power."

Although some of Brewington's conduct was allegedly criminal, his case is noteworthy to the extent of examining his right to free speech in the context of family court litigation.  After Father lost custody of his child in the Indiana family court, he was prosecuted and convicted in a separate proceeding on two counts of "intimidation", attempted obstruction of justice, and perjury.

In the criminal case against Brewington, he was alleged to have characterized the family court judge on his blog as corrupt, unethical, and engaged in illegal behavior.  He also repeatedly referred to the judge as a child abuser.

Brewington was sentenced to 5-years in prison for his deeds.  The 44-page opinion of the Indiana Court of Appeals affirming his conviction and sentence has drew the attention, and criticism, of First Amendment scholars.

The problem that Brewington's case illustrates is that one can be imprisoned in Indiana for what one says, or blogs, so long as the speech is perceived as a "threat".  The First Amendment scholars have issued a call to action, led by UCLA Law Professor Eugene Volokh.

Both cases also point to the multi-faceted threats to free speech that surface again and again in our post-modern, Big Data culture.  You would think that by now, here in America, speech is protected.  As these cases demonstrate, guess again.

We here at the Law Blogger promise to be ever vigilant relative to such threats, reporting them as we see them arise.  Now get out there and express your bad-ass self!

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3 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is scary stuff, courts taking away our right to free speech. However, in many instances there is overt and corrupt injustice being perpetrated. In NYS SC Laura Drager has been called out for decades , Laura Drager is known to be for sale to the monied spouse. She makes ex's and kids of millionaires homeless and flouts the law, refusing to enforce her own orders. At Change.org there's a petition against Laura Drager signed by hundreds of victims and lawyers. The internet should be used to bring down these criminals masquerading in black robes. How many hundreds of articles should point out the corruption of Laura Drager? Should the thousands of victims be in jail for whistleblowing, or should Judge Drager be jailed for her crimes and corruption? Hmmmm...

March 1, 2013 at 3:04 PM 
Blogger Timothy P. Flynn said...

Dear Anonymous,

Thank you for reading and commenting on our blog. It would be even nicer, however, since you are dropping names, to have dropped your own name or organization. But, we here at the Law Blogger are used to the anonymity of the blogosphere. In any event, you know who you are and what you are about, even if we don't. Again, thanks for the comment.

March 2, 2013 at 11:27 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Mr Flynn,

Anyone wanting to know more about the corruption of Judge Laura Drager can do a google search and easily find many articles. Some of these were in the Daily News, Post, CBS, even one by Greta Van Susterern that's "disappeared" from the internet recently. The group National Coalition for Family Justice has the same observations about Laura Drager and hundreds of other victims signed the petition against Drager. Some of Drager's more famous victims include Susan Titus Glascoff, Janice Schacter and Stephanie Lerner. I am a victim captioned under Anon vs Anon in her courtroom. What I am about is removing this corrupt woman before my daughter completely loses her mind; she already had PTSD from what Drager permits against us ( since 2005). We are impoverished and were evicted illegally. I want Drager's tyranny to end, I want a normal and fair judge who applies the law and best interests of the child. If Drager even enforced her own Stips that would be a miracle! Ihear amazing things about
Mathew Cooper. Thanks for letting me post.

March 5, 2013 at 2:10 PM 

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