FC: Wash. state judge gives Trummel until Friday to delete info

From: Declan McCullagh (declanat_private)
Date: Tue Jun 18 2002 - 06:53:04 PDT

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    News coverage:
    Politech archive:
     From Anonymous, suggesting that politechnicals mirror these site before 
    it's too late:
    >Trummel's writings may be found at www.contracabal.org (uncensored) and
    >www.contracabal.net (censored)
    >The names and contact information that form the basis of Trummel's 
    >contempt are at:
    >I suspect he may take these down in the next few days, so the link could 
    >go bad at any time.
    >Judge Doerty's website is at http://www.jdoerty.com I suspect that many of 
    >the entries in the guestbook are going to disappear very soon!
    Elena (below) is a Washington state attorney who has worked on similar 
    First Amendment cases before (http://www.politechbot.com/p-03324.html).
    Date: Mon, 17 Jun 2002 22:16:14 -0700
    To: declanat_private
    From: Elena Luisa Garella <garellaat_private>
    Subject: Re:Disturbing comments by Judge in Trummel free speech case.
    I believe you are familiar with the Trummel case.  Paul Trummel was, until 
    April, 2001, a resident of Council House, a HUD-funded housing project for 
    the elderly in Seattle, WA.  He wrote a newsletter that reported 
    allegations regarding the poor administration of Council House and some of 
    the activities of fellow residents.  Council House sought and obtained a 
    restraining order based on allegations of harassment. Judge James Doerty 
    presided.  The Order (April 19, 2001) required him to stay 500' away from 
    Council House, effectively operated as an eviction.
    Mr. Trummel continued his self-styled investigation of wrong doings at 
    Council House, and posted the names, addresses, phone numbers and email 
    addresses of the Officers and Board of Directors.  The Court issued another 
    restraining order, banning Mr. Trummel from "posting on the Internet or to 
    his web site, directly or indirectly, any personal identifying information, 
    including, but not limited to the name, address, phone number, Social 
    Security Number, or photograph of any current, former or future staff 
    member, resident, board memeber, or agent, including attorneys, of Council 
    Mr. Trummel apparently posted the information anyway.  (By the way, I do 
    not believe he ever posted anyone's SSN.  I also believe the information he 
    posted was restricted to those people who administer and/or direct Council 
    House.  However, I have not reviewed the entirety of his web-sites or seen 
    all of its various incarnations).  The Court put Mr. Trummel in jail three 
    and a half months ago for civil contempt .  About a month ago, the Court 
    further ordered that Mr. Trummel be restricted from using the phone except 
    to call his attorney.  King County Jail then placed Mr. Trummel in solitary 
    confinement, in a cell next to alleged "Green River Killer" Gary 
    At the time he was initially jailed, the Court failed to advise Mr. Trummel 
    that he was entitled to counsel, and that, because he is indigent, counsel 
    would be provided to him free of charge.  (Because the civil contempt 
    proceeding involved the threat of imprisonment, Mr. Trummel had a right to 
    an attorney).  On May 1, 2002, the Court finally appointed Mr. Trummel a 
    lawyer.  That lawyer, Brad Meryhew, asked Judge Doerty to vacate the 
    finding of contempt and to recuse himself on grounds that the judge's 
    impartiality is suspect due to the denial of counsel.
    Today I attended the hearing on the motion to vacate and for recusal.  The 
    Court did not enter a decision, continuing the matter until this 
    Friday.  The Court did release Mr. Trummel until that date, apparently to 
    give him an opportunity to remove the offending matter from the 
    Internet.  The Court delivered a startling (and, IMHO, depressingly 
    misguided)  blast at Mr. Trummel and his rights.  That oral opinion can be 
    found attached and at http://www.metrokc.gov/kcsc/
    It is beyond the scope of this letter to explore everything that is wrong 
    and dangerous about this opinion.  A few (and just a few) of my 
    observations are as follows:
    1) On page 2, the Court states that this "is a case about balancing speech 
    and the right of privacy."  I am aware of no decision of precedential value 
    that curbs free speech based on the privacy rights claims of others.  This 
    is simply not the correct test.  The test, under the US Constitution, is 
    whether or not the speech must be restrained in order to serve a 
    significant government interest.” Madsen v. Women’s Health Center, 512 U.S. 
    753, 764, 114 S. Ct. 2516, 129 L. Ed. 2d 593 (1994).  Any court order 
    restricting such speech must “burden no more speech than necessary to serve 
    a significant government interest.”  Madsen v. Women’s Health Center, 512 
    U.S. 753, 764, 114 S. Ct. 2516, 129 L. Ed. 2d 593 (1994) (upholding 36-foot 
    buffer zone as applied to only certain areas around abortion 
    clinic).  Washington law is even more protective:
    [T]ime, place and manner restrictions may be imposed whenever the right of 
    free speech under Const. art.1, § 5 has been abused, but only if the 
    restrictions (1) are content neutral, (2) are narrowly tailored to serve a 
    compelling State interest, and (3) leave open ample alternative channels of 
    Bering v. Share, 106 Wn.2d 212, 234, 721 P.2d 918 (1986).  Restrictions 
    that are not tailored to a significant (or compelling) government interest, 
    and do not leave adequate “breathing space” for speech protected by the 
    First Amendment, are unconstitutional.  Madsen, 512 U.S. at 773-74, 129 
    L.Ed.2d at 612-13, (striking down 300-foot restriction on solicitation and 
    picketing at abortion clinic).  Any restrictions on Mr. Trummel's 
    activities must be narrowly tailored to a compelling state interest and 
    leave open ample alternative channels of communication.  Notwithstanding 
    these precedents, the Court has ordered a 500' no-contact zone for Mr. 
    Trummel, and is contemplated a one-mile restriction!    (See page 16 of the 
    decision).  A one-mile restriction would bar Mr. Trummel from much of 
    Seattle, including, in all likelihood many essential medical, legal and 
    governmental offices.
    2) The Court presumes that it has the power to prohibit the promulgation of 
    names of people.  I don't believe that any other  US Court has found a 
    privacy right vested in one's own name.  Mr. Trummel has posted the names 
    and contact information of persons who are involved in a public enterprise 
    (the running of a partially federally funded housing project!).  They are 
    limited purpose public figures.  I do not see how publication of their 
    names, or legally obtained contact information, can be restrained for the 
    same reasons I opposed such restraint in Kirkland v. Sheehan.  Indeed, were 
    the Court correct in this regard, the newspaper could be banned from 
    publishing Mr. Trummel's name!  It is absurd.
    {RCW 63.30, cited by the Court on page 11, does not exist; I believe the 
    reference is to RCW 63.60.010, which states:
    Every individual or personality, as the case may be, has a property right 
    in the use of his or her name, voice, signature, photograph, or likeness, 
    and such right shall be freely transferable, assignable, and licensable, in 
    whole or in part, by any otherwise permissible form of inter vivos or 
    testamentary transfer, including without limitation a will, trust, 
    contract, community property agreement, or cotenancy with survivorship 
    provisions or payable-on- death provisions, or, if none is applicable, 
    under the laws of intestate succession applicable to interests in 
    intangible personal property. The property right does not expire upon the 
    death of the individual or personality, as the case may be. The right 
    exists whether or not it was commercially exploited by the individual or 
    the personality during the individual's or the personality's lifetime.
    This statute bars profiting from someone else's intangible property 
    rights-- e.g. commercial endorsements using a person's likeness or name 
    without permission]
    3) Ironically, the Court, while (improperly) pointing out that Mr. Trummel 
    is not an American and therefore "perhaps . . . has difficulty in 
    understanding this basic principle of a federal republic" appears to have 
    its own difficulties with the concept.  At the top of page 8, and 
    throughout the opinion, the Court argues that the Washington privacy clause 
    and anti-harassment statute somehow trump the US Constitution!  In fact, 
    this is wrong, wrong, wrong, and the Court need only review State v. 
    Williams,  144 Wash.2d 197, 26 P.3d 890 (2001) for a fine explication of 
    why a state statute is necessarily limited by federal constitutional rights.
    4) The Court also doesn't understand the concept of prior restraint.  On 
    pages 8 -9, the Court suggests that because the Court's order affects only 
    100 words of Mr. Trummel's website, there is only a "slight infringement on 
    his free speech" and "no prior restraint."  In fact, the Court has made a 
    content-based restriction, and it doesn't matter if it is one word or a 
    million.  Indeed, a great deal of damage could be done to virtually any 
    work of literature--or court opinion, for that matter-- via the removal of 
    a "mere" 100 words.
    The upshot is this:  Mr. Trummel has four days to remove the offending 
    names, addresses and phone numbers from his website.  If he fails to do so, 
    he's likely to be put back into jail.  Even if he does comply, he may face 
    serious sanctions, including restriction from 3.14 square miles in the 
    middle of Seattle.  Sorry for the long letter-- but this has the makings of 
    a civil rights travesty.
    Elena Garella
    927 N. Northlake Way, Ste. 301
    Seattle, WA 98103
    From: Eric Cordian <emcat_private>
    Subject: PI Article
    To: declanat_private
    Date: Mon, 17 Jun 2002 11:36:06 -0700 (PDT)
    There's a rather snotty article in today's PI on the Trummel matter, in
    which the author manages to put quotes around every occurrence of "writer"
    and "journalist."
    Nonetheless, I thought you might find it entertaining reading, and perhaps
    worth posting a pointer to on Politech.
    Eric Michael Cordian 0+
    O:.T:.O:. Mathematical Munitions Division
    "Do What Thou Wilt Shall Be The Whole Of The Law"
    ["aufargisat_private" appears to be someone who Paul Trummel has 
    criticized in the past (http://www.politechbot.com/p-03630.html). --DBM]
    To: declanat_private
    From: aufargisat_private
    Subject: Paul Munchausen Trummel
    Date: Mon, 17 Jun 2002 19:41:09 -0700 (PDT)
    Mr. Bretagna,
    I assume that you would like to know what happened to
    Paul Trummel today.
    Court ruling can be read at:
    If you have some time to spare I would appreciate your
    comments very much.
    F. Jacques
    To: declanat_private
    From: aufargisat_private
    Subject: Paul Munchausen Trummel
    Date: Wed, 12 Jun 2002 16:17:41 -0700 (PDT)
    The “anything goes” culture prevailing in the Internet
    is a clear reflection of the vulgarities of a mass
    society inebriated by a soulless technology and no
    other medium projects it so vividly and so accurately.
    Besides being the main lever of the pornography
    industry and the haunting grounds for the sexually
    deviant, the Internet is also the forum for the
    anarchist-cum-nihilist, know-it-all-café-intellectuals,
    beer-hall-philosophers and assorted dispensers of
    intellectual flatulence.
             Of course there is good stuff in the Internet. Lots of
    it but, in spite of the infinite sources of knowledge,
    beauty art, the humanities, science, politics,
    literature, poetry and general information made
    accessible to all by the Internet, the medium has been
    - and this, may be irremediably - polluted by
    heavy-duty intellectually vulgarity. What could have
    been the most efficient arena for healthy intellectual
    intercourse turned into a intellectual, ethical and
    moral sewer.
             This vulgarity, this commonness, this boorishness
    finds its expression particularly in the so called
    “Internet Media.” A rag-tag of could be, should be, may
    have been or ought to have been: journalists freelance
    writers, commentators and pundrity experts in general.
    They all seem to came from the same mold: All are self
    annointed, Envy League Alumni and Grievance and
    Conspiracies Studies Majors. Found of dramatic effects
    and afflicted with a childish relativism and arid
    rationalism they fill the ether with their spurious
    notions of right and wrong and, their proclivity for
    exaggerations and oversimplifications, reduces
    everything to the lowest common denominator. Their
    collective mediocrity gives wide berth to the most
    outrageous assumptions including the idea that people
    ought to make donations to some of their Web sites so
    they can carry on with the dispensations of their God
    given wisdom.
             The defense of Paul “Munchausen” Trummel by the
    Internet Media has been positively emphatic, sometimes
    pathetic, frequently nauseating and more often than not
    absurd. Now and then it sounded intensely sincere, even
    touching, nonetheless, monumentally wrong. Their
    symptomatic ethical disarray, their nihilistic rage,
    their unjustified snobbery, their frequent use of words
    totally detached from their meanings makes that to list
    it all would be a task equal to the cleaning of a too
    oft used hot house. An intellectual hot house there is.
    Their collective mediocrity is only matched by their
    laziness. Physical and intellectual laziness.
             Indeed, a few phone calls and the house of cards built
    by Paul Munchausen Trummel could have been brought down
    with little effort. Yet, it was not done. One wonders
    why. Was it narcissism? After all there is a romantic
    aura attached to the profession of journalist and even
    a greater one to that of freelance writer. The first
    invokes daring courage while the other conveys the
    image of the independent loner and deep thinker. The
    idolatry of the self that seems to permeate the
    Internet media could explain such laxity. And probably
    it does. But then there is the instinctive turf
    self-defense. The First Amendment is precious to all
    but if a little provincial judge can bring down all the
    Paul Munchausen Trummel’s that populate the Internet
    media the medium could be taken by true professionals,
    professionals who may choose to adhere to strict
    ethical rules. By real freelance writers, individuals
    with a sensible command of the language and capable of
    clear thought who may create Web sites full of meaning
    and purpose instead of those altars for self idolatry
    that sully the Internet.
             It was an opportunity that was missed and most
    probably may never present itself again. A inane and
    senseless judicial joust will now take place between a
    judge and a host of others Munchausens roaming the
    Internet and calling themselves “members “ of the press
    and simplifiers - to the point of caricature - of the
    democratic principle of freedom of expression. The
    desperately needed cleaning of the Internet media is a
    task that is now left for future generations.
             Of course there are exceptions, Matt Drudge and his
    lack of pretentiousness for instance, but in the
    overall the Internet media is essentially composed of
    callous and immature intellectual adolescents filled
    with parochial intransigency and lacking the
    intellectual austerity needed to build a much necessary
    vehicle of information.
             Good luck to all the Paul Munchausen Trummel’s out
    there, the Internet is yours.
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