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Senior Citizen Activist Jailed For Internet Rant
Newsbytes via Rense ^ | Michael Bartlett

Posted on 03/30/2002 11:15:01 AM PST by Sir Gawain

Senior Citizen Activist
Jailed For Internet Rant

By Michael Bartlett

SEATTLE, Wa. - A man who posted on the Web details of what he asserts is an investigative report into alleged improprieties at a Seattle residence for senior citizens has been in jail for a month - with no end to his incarceration in sight, his attorney said today.
Paul Trummel, 69, was for approximately two years a resident of Council House, a residence in the Capitol Hill section of Seattle whose construction was funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
Trummel, a former professor of journalism at the University of Washington, had frequent run-ins with the administrators who managed the facility.
He detailed his complaints in a newsletter, which he published and distributed to residents of Council House.
According to Robert Siegel, Trummel's attorney, Trummel first appeared in court in April 2001, when he asked Superior Court Judge James Doerty to issue an injunction against the administrators of Council House, who were trying to halt the distribution of his newsletter.
"Judge Doerty took an immediate dislike to Paul," said Siegel. "Not only did he turn down his request for an injunction, he told the other side that if they asked him, he would issue an injunction against Paul."
Two weeks later, on April 19, 2001, Council House obtained a restraining order against Trummel. Siegel said the order not only told Trummel not to "harass" the administrators, it said he could not even go into the building - making it a de facto eviction.
"The judge said he can't have any contact with anyone at Council House. That means not just the people he had a problem with, but also the residents, many of whom were his friends and acquaintances."
Since April 2001, there have been four or five contempt orders based on the original anti-harassment order, said Siegel.
Some time last year, Trummel created a Web site he called On this site, Trummel continued to bash the administrators of Council House, as well as Doerty. Council House's attorneys brought the site to Doerty's attention, asserting that it violated the judge's order that Trummel cease his "harassment."
"Most of what Paul was putting on the site was public information that is available at the Secretary of State's office," said Siegel.
Eventually, Trummel complied with the judge's order and edited many items from his site. However, Siegel said Trummel put up what he called a "shadow" Web site at that contained all of the non-complying information. Trummel asserted that since the second site was based in Holland, Doerty had no jurisdiction over it, said Siegel.
"On Feb. 27, Doerty ordered Paul placed in jail for contempt," Siegel said. "He ordered him held until he is in compliance with an Oct. 26, 2001, order to remove content from the Web site."
The problem is, Trummel has no Internet access in jail, and the judge's indefinite sentence rankles Siegel.
"I don't know how he is to comply from jail. That is the dilemma," he said. "The judge has not set a date for an arraignment, a hearing or anything. It is civil contempt, so he is not guaranteed the right to a speedy trial. Had he been arrested for murder, he would have had to be arraigned."
James Chadwick, an attorney not involved in this case who is an expert on free speech law, believes Trummel has a solid First Amendment defense.
"The judge's order to take down statements is classic prior restraint," Chadwick told Newsbytes.
Chadwick said he looked at Trummel's Web site and it seemed to him that some of Trummel's statements had been removed.
"Trummel makes several accusations on his site against the administrators of the building, but if those accusations are false, they are defamatory," he said. "You cannot enjoin speech because it is defamatory, at least until you have a conclusive judicial determination that it is defamatory - such as a trial or a summary judgment."
Chadwick said the judge in this case has enjoined speech "that appears to enjoy First Amendment protection."
"Speech can be enjoined, but only in very limited circumstances," he explained. "Examples would include a pattern of threats of physical violence, incitements to violence or child pornography."
"But even in categories of speech not protected, such as speech that is defamatory or obscene, you cannot enjoin the speech," he added.
Siegel said Trummel's legal troubles are exacerbated by his health issues. He said Trummel suffers from four types of arthritis and prostate problems, and is forbidden under jail rules to take the supplements he normally takes to treat those conditions.
This week, Trummel tested positive for tuberculosis, Siegel added.
Trummel's plight is attracting international attention. Because he is a British subject and permanent resident alien, the British government has written to the judge. In addition, organizations such as the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) are trying to rally support.
"Paul has been an investigative reporter all his life, and he is a member of several journalism groups. SPJ said they were going to file an Amicus Curiae brief on his behalf."
Siegel said it is possible that Trummel could ask him to take down the Web site on Trummel's behalf, but "Paul wants to stand by his guns on principle."
"He says every thing he wrote is satire or the facts," said Siegel. "If Council House thinks they have damages, they can sue for defamation and try to prove it. They don't need the extraordinary protection of an anti-harassment order."
Trummel's Web site is at .
The "international version" is at .
Reported by, .
Press contact:
Robert Siegel, defendant's attorney 206-624-9392

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To: Roscoe
More insight link

Fighting words

Is Paul Trummel a crusading journalist or the neighbor from hell?


AS A WEEK-TO-WEEK resident of Motel 6 in Renton, 65-year-old Paul Trummel is not so much homeless as exiled. The onetime London journalist was booted out of the 163-unit nonprofit Council House residence for seniors on Capitol Hill in a legal action that backfired: Trummel had charged management with harassment, but a county judge found Trummel to be the guilty party. He was barred from returning to his subsidized room at the 17th Avenue retirement facility, founded in the '70s by the League of Jewish Women and funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Management claims that Trummel was an agitator, stirring up elderly residents with false claims of corruption and discrimination that he published in a newsletter also available on the Internet. Trummel says he's been a card-carrying journalist for 40 years and based his complaints on diligent, accurate research. He is now out on his butt, he says, for exercising his freedom of speech as a resident and writer. Trummel is filing an appeal next week and hopes to win back the right to occupy the room where he is still paying rent.

"There's no doubt whatsoever they violated my constitutional rights," says Trummel, a U.S. resident since 1965 with what he describes as a background in muckraking, academia, and running a communications company prior to semiretiring and moving into Council House a few years ago. "The documents I obtained threatened various [management] people, and they had to strike back, even if unconstitutionally."

Some residents helped Trummel retrieve some of his goods (his dog died during the move) as he relocated to the Renton motel, where he pays $278 a week. He has signed statements from more than 40 residents supporting him and is getting donations from them. "It's money just out of the blue," the pensioner says.

Attorney Bob Siegel, now aiding Trummel, calls the court's ruling "a draconian order" that "completely disregards any and all of Paul's constitutional rights and visits an extreme hardship on an elderly gentleman for no legitimate reason."

Siegel filed a 12-page motion for reconsideration, but King County Superior Court Judge James Doerty turned it down last month. Among its points was First Amendment protection. Freelance journalist and Christian Science Monitor contributor Dean Patton, who supports Trummel, argues "that the rights to free expression and publication enjoyed by, and protected for, Mr. Trummel's newsletter are no less than those enjoyed by The New York Times. . . ."

COUNCIL HOUSE manager Stephen Mitchell says Trummel "has terrorized this community for almost two years" and has no right to distribute his literature in the "private" building. (Mitchell feels that Trummel also may have violated a court order by talking to me and told me he was informing his attorneys of such.) Earlier in court, Mitchell told a judge that Trummel's harassment included: "offensive and defamatory newsletters and statements about Council Hall staff and residents. . . . He had ignited numerous groundless investigations of Council House by government agencies, including HUD, with the intent to distract [Mitchell and residents]."

Mitchell says Trummel is rude and intimidating and makes baseless charges against residents, too. "Many residents are afraid of Mr. Trummel and fear becoming a target of his written and oral attacks," Mitchell says. "Simply put, Mr. Trummel believes that his former position as a journalist, of which he is justly proud, somehow gives him the right and the license to be abusive and hurtful [to others]."

In April, Council House--overseen by a 15-member board and represented by Short Cressman, one of the city's top law firms--squashed Trummel in court, where he was defending himself. Among other points, the lawyers argued that Trummel was not really a journalist because he had no editor or publisher (Trummel argued that he was his own editor and publisher for both his newsletter and Web site.)

Judge Doerty discounted the journalist's claim and felt no free-speech issue was involved. He ruled against Trummel and, attorneys say, invited opposing counsel to seek an anti-harassment order against Trummel. Doerty then signed it, permanently preventing Trummel from ever coming within 500 feet of Council House.

Trummel concedes he's a quarrelsome critic. "I try to make my point pointedly," he says of his newsletter, Disconnections (the Council House newsletter is called Connections). Disconnections is featured on Trummel's Web site (, along with screeds on academic fraud including allegations that University of Washington hackers crashed his site in retaliation (the UW had no comment). His writing has sharp edges, as seen in these examples from the offending newsletter:

*"Residents must remove the pandering pygmies that have appointed themselves officers of the self-serving glee club that poses as a residents' council. They must replace this phony association with a registered residents' association using the HUD model. . . ."

*"Despite . . . repeated warnings about feeding pigeons, several gullible residents continue to feed the resident stool pigeons with information instead of keeping their own counsel. . . ."

*"Recently, about two hundred nonresidents held a bar mitzvah in the combined dining room and lounge. They held a religious ritual that some residents found distasteful and imposed their exclusive criteria upon all residents. By that they violated federal law. . . ."

*"Saturday, a great shadow descended over the laundry room as an obese woman clad only in a sheer nylon nightdress lumbered in. This grotesque apparition contrasted greatly with the woman present at the time. . . . If Mitchell doubts these statements then he should take this specter home for the weekend. His failure to enforce the house dress code deserves that type of punishment. . . . "

Trummel also penned complaints about ongoing noise, lack of maintenance, drunken residents, the house eatery (which he dubbed "Ptomaine Grotto"), and racial issues. One item in particular that may have grated on management was about the search for a new administrator: "They voiced concerns about advertising nationally because it would result in black people applying for the position and conspired to exclude them. . . . By planning to manipulate employment criteria they violated both the spirit and intent of federal equal opportunity laws."

Officials deny such a plan. One Council House official, who notes that Rep. Jim McDermott's mother is a House resident, says "We've been under a federal investigation and [been] looked at many times by state agencies and never had a problem." (HUD had no comment.) On April 19, Doerty issued his anti- harassment order banning Trummel from contacting anyone at Council House "in person, by mail, electronically, by telephone, by writing or through any third person. . . ."

Manager Mitchell says the Trummel saga has given Council House a bad rap. "We are so proud of what we do here," he says. "This is wonderful housing with tremendous views, where residents can pay as little as $150 a month." He plans to begin eviction proceedings against Trummel. "What I wish for Paul Trummel is that he would just move on."

Trummel is still banking on the forthcoming appeal. "I believe I will win," he says in his crowded temporary quarters at Motel 6. "More people than ever are now being harassed at Council House. I must get back there. I have a job to finish."

41 posted on 03/30/2002 7:04:02 PM PST by RGSpincich
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To: F.J. Mitchell
"Everyone who can read with comprehension should interpret the Constitution. "

Then if that is true, why do we need a court, The Supreme Court, which does nothing but interpret the Constitution?

It seems, as you say, that if anyone who can read with comprehension, should be able to understand it, then we would never have a dispute on what it means.

42 posted on 03/30/2002 7:26:12 PM PST by Kerberos
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To: Roscoe
I don't think GWB has embraced ... open border and the elimination of are immigration laws.

You don't?! What do you call that amnesty thingey he's been waving around?

43 posted on 03/30/2002 7:57:31 PM PST by MadameAxe
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To: MadameAxe
I don't think GWB has embraced ... open border and the elimination of are immigration laws.

I don't think GWB has embraced the LP's goal of open border and the elimination of are immigration laws.

44 posted on 03/30/2002 9:15:50 PM PST by Roscoe
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To: Roscoe
I know GWB has embraced illegal aliens joining you with your family, upon your private moments, to take away more of your resources and simultaneously taxing you to death.
45 posted on 03/30/2002 9:23:06 PM PST by Buckeroo
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To: RGSpincich
Even though Trummel seems to be a nasty ingrate intent on disrupting the operations of the HUD property and the lives of its residents, the court orders regarding his web site shouldn't stand.

Let's hope he doesn't manage to legally force his way back into the subsidized housing project.

46 posted on 03/30/2002 9:30:22 PM PST by Roscoe
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To: Buckeroo
As ill advised as the limited amnesty for visa overstays is, it falls well short of the LP's hatred for our borders and American way of life.

Trummel shouldn't even be here.

47 posted on 03/30/2002 9:35:36 PM PST by Roscoe
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To: tpaine; Kerberos
UCLA has one of the premiere 2A supporters on it's Law faculty, Dr. Eugene Voloch. Stop in and wander about his The Journalist's Guide to Gun Policy Scholars and Second Amendment Scholars for both pro and con opinions.
48 posted on 03/30/2002 10:30:51 PM PST by brityank
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To: Roscoe
He is bonkers, to boot. He did harass the building residents and management. Then he did violate the anti-harassment order because of the wide scope of such orders. He is jailed for that reason not because of the content of his postings. He should "just move along" as the building manager has requested and the anti-harassment orders could be rescinded. Then he could rant away on the internet, like the rest of us.
49 posted on 03/30/2002 10:42:07 PM PST by RGSpincich
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To: Kerberos
It only takes five strict constructionists to render a previous decision mute.
50 posted on 03/30/2002 10:52:54 PM PST by TN Republican
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To: TN Republican
mute = moot (!)
51 posted on 03/30/2002 10:55:03 PM PST by TN Republican
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To: Sir Gawain
Judges can be impeached, read the Constitution. Its something we need to remember.
52 posted on 03/30/2002 11:03:33 PM PST by GeronL
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To: brityank
Thanks for the link. It looks like it has a lot of good resources on it.

"UCLA has one of the premiere 2A supporters on it's Law faculty,",

I was real taken with the article I had read on there, but was real surprised when I saw that is was from the UCLA law school. Like I said earlier, UCLA is not thought to be a real bastion of conservatism. Guess there's hope for anyone.

53 posted on 03/31/2002 1:58:44 AM PST by Kerberos
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To: TN Republican
"It only takes five strict constructionists to render a previous decision mute."

That's true, which is why these court appointments become so important.

54 posted on 03/31/2002 2:00:20 AM PST by Kerberos
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To: Roscoe
Below is an example of the responsible journalistic principals that Trummel exhibits. Free speech is one thing but I will side with the judge on this guy, this is harassment. Totally unfounded accusations freely distributed to degrade individuals is harassment. We are not talking about being accused of dropping donuts on the floor and then serving them. He's accusing people of murder.

He claims to withhold evidence for ethical reasons, none ever surfaced.

Who killed Jackie Nations?

Did the Council House Administrator kill her?

Has the Activities Director killed her aunt?

Did the Social Services Director do it?

Did Council House Co-Presidents cause her death?

Has lack of oversight by HUD contributed to her death?

They all probably contributed to her death through abuse or indifference. That construes as gross negligence especially when some of them acted for financial gain. Both police and medical examiners ruled out homicide yet Mitchell has since accused at least two residents with premeditated culpability in her death. He has made those official statements without a smidgen of evidence to support his contentions.

Jackie Nations (50), a healthy and active woman for her size, evidently died a painful, lingering death. Nations fell or jumped out of a window and lay dying on a roof. She had no help and lay there for up to three hours according to medical reports. Witnesses later identified sounds that they heard during the night and came forward to say that she did not die immediately. Others gave detailed reports about abuse that Nations, a person of diminished mental capacity, experienced during the days before her death.

This reporter has a dual obligation, truthfully to report wrongdoing to his audience and a sometimes competing obligation to wrongdoers. He meets both obligations by alerting authorities about upcoming publication when circumstances suggest violence. When authorities do nothing, then a journalist's personal responsibility ends whatever the outcome.

The death of Jackie Nations involves violence and misappropriation. Therefore, this reporter will withhold details temporarily. That will give state and federal authorities an opportunity to gather documents and interview witnesses without interference by third parties. It will also protect sources from intimidation by an administrator who has a history of fabricating evidence and tampering with witnesses.

A basic journalism principle allows alleged wrongdoers to explain themselves before publishing details of their alleged crimes. Sometimes that results in publication of a rebuttal. By that, they have a chance to give their side of the story.

Stephen (aka Stefan) A. Mitchell, Administrator, Council House, has obtained a blanket injunction restraining this reporter from approaching hundreds of people. He has attempted to stop publication of reports about abuse and misappropriation at Council House. He has also attempted to have this web site taken down. Presumably, he thinks that he can stop publication of the truth about what has happened to several residents.

That restriction affects people mentioned in this exposé and prevents the reporter from contacting them. Individuals mentioned negatively in published material have a constitutional right to respond to what they read about themselves. Mitchell has denied them that right.

Naming alleged wrongdoers insures that the public will have no doubt to whom a report applies and helps hold harmless as many innocent people as possible. Precise identification avoids mistaken identity. Use of names and addresses to support exposé is a time-honored tradition and within legal constraints.

Using personal data to support a story warns the public of unlawful activity and has always been considered ethical journalism. Otherwise, criminals can hide behind a curtain of censorship and prior restraint. Mitchell cannot lawfully restrict publication of names as he has tried to do. Naming individuals remains the prerogative of the reporter or editor.

All information contained in the Nations essay derives from public and other documents verified and validated with sources. After publication, the alleged wrongdoers may write to the editor if they wish and state their point of view. They must support their contentions with documentation. This unusual opportunity may mitigate damage caused to them by Mitchell's unusual injunction.

Mitchell persists in his supremacist behavior, unchecked. HUD has still not moved to launch a full investigation although they have received adequate information for that purpose. Instead, they have chosen to collude with Mitchell and his predecessor Mark T. Mullen to cover up abuse and misappropriation of government funds. Must other residents die before HUD officials stop the out-of-control, Council House management team in their tracks?

55 posted on 03/31/2002 5:07:56 AM PST by RGSpincich
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To: Buckeroo; Roscoe
I guess it's OK with Roscoe as long as it's his guy doing it. He also conveniently forgets to mention that most Libertarians, including this one, do not support open borders and immigration unless and until all the socialist gimme programs are discontinued. Wouldn't make as good a sound bite.
56 posted on 03/31/2002 8:10:54 AM PST by MadameAxe
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To: MadameAxe
...most Libertarians, including this one, do not support open borders and immigration unless and until all the socialist gimme programs are discontinued.

False. Here in California, the Libertarian Party opposed Proposition 187, which would have discontinued most state benefits to illegal aliens.

How many Libertarians on this thread have expressed opposition to this British foreign national's attempt to coerce his way back into federally subsidized housing?

57 posted on 03/31/2002 11:36:13 AM PST by Roscoe
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To: one_particular_harbour
The State of Washington is ruled by judicial tyranny. Not even one superior court judge has ever been convicted of a felony in the state of Washington in 114 years; and it isn't because none has committed a felony.
58 posted on 03/31/2002 11:36:35 AM PST by connectthedots
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To: RGSpincich
He claims to withhold evidence for ethical reasons...

How convenient. And familiar.

59 posted on 03/31/2002 12:00:26 PM PST by Roscoe
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To: Kerberos
There will always be disputes over what it means, because it often serves someone's agenda that it mean something different. The Court should confirm the obvious instead of splitting hairs similar to Clinton's depending what "is" is, as is too often the case when they legislate from the Bench.
60 posted on 03/31/2002 3:29:18 PM PST by F.J. Mitchell
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