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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

TOPICS: Front Page News; Government
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To: F.J. Mitchell
“There will always be disputes over what it means, because it often serves someone's agenda that it mean something different.”

True, and that is the nature of law and courts. It is an adversarial process of two people with different opinions as to what a particular piece of law means, and one side convincing a third party that their interpretation is correct.

So the question becomes how did we get to the point where today the law says that there is a question as to weather a person has a right to own a firearm, and get back to the point where it is a given truism that an individual has a right to own a firearm? It certainly will take a lot more than reading a piece of text from the Constitution and proclaiming this is what it means.

The Court should confirm the obvious instead of splitting hairs similar to Clinton's depending what "is" is,”

Unfortunately, with language not being a real precise tool, what may seem obvious to one person, may not be so obvious to another. Or as some people like to employ, the “common sense” argument, which in essence means you have no argument.

And let’s not get too critically of Bill’s ability to parse words, and don’t get me wrong, I think the boy should be tried for treason against his country, but am resigned to the fact that it will never happen. But he had that skill very highly developed and made it work well for him. We could stand to get better at it ourselves to advance our objectives.

61 posted on 03/31/2002 4:05:49 PM PST by Kerberos
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To: Roscoe
Here in California, the Libertarian Party opposed Proposition 187, which would have discontinued most state benefits to illegal aliens.

I didn't say "all". And, since I don't know the particulars of the bill as I do not live in your state, I don't know why they opposed it, but I doubt if the explanation is as simple as you claim.

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?

I don't really know. I just came in on flags and haven't read the rest of the posts. I didn't notice anywhere in the article that said anything about the housing being federally subsidized. And, the guy sounds like a jerk. I don't see the point of throwing him in jail based on the details of this story though.

62 posted on 03/31/2002 5:39:27 PM PST by MadameAxe
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 57 | View Replies]

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