David Hogberg’s Eyewitness Account of Kimberlin / Worthing Hearing
With all of the attention surrounding Brett Kimberlin, I attended Tuesday’s hearing in his “peace order” vs. Aaron Walker in the District Court of Maryland for Montgomery County. In the end, the judge granted Kimberlin’s peace order, and Walker ended up leaving in handcuffs. (If you want to know why Kimberlin is a story, go here.)
This was the second peace order that Kimberlin has filed against Walker, demanding that Walker cease any contact with Kimberlin. In it, Kimberlin claims that Walker has “continually harassed” him with “alarming posts, tweets, alerts that arrive in my email box, which I consider threats to me personally and to my business.” Kimberlin came to court with pages upon pages of threatening emails and tweets that he claimed had resulted from Walker’s blog posts about him. None of them, though, were sent by Walker.
This last sentence is the key that should have spared Worthing, if it had been clarified and emphasized.
While talking with Kimberlin and his associate Neal Rauhauser, a woman who was a victim’s assistant for Kimberlin came out of the courtroom and said that Walker had been led away in handcuffs.
Apparently Aaron was right about his guess that Neal was accompanying Brett.
Here’s what seems to have happened. Although Kimberlin’s first peace order against Walker was eventually thrown out on appeal, it appears that while it was in effect Walker wrote a blog post about Kimberlin. This triggered a Google Alert that Kimberlin had set up. Kimberlin filed criminal charges based on that, apparently claiming that constituted “contact.” The court apparently agreed, and Walker was arrested.
Did Aaron make the point that Kimberlin has set up the google alert himself and he wouldn’t have received the notice apart from that? This is like me setting up a Rube Goldberg machine to punch me when someone drives by my home, and then sue them for assault. The reason this ludicrous argument worked is because the judge, by his own account, knows next to nothing about modern social media and technology.
As for why the judge ruled in favor of Kimberlin’s peace order, that’s easier to explain. First, Walker was clearly stressed and high-strung in court, and alienated Judge C.J. Vaughey. He repeatedly interrupted Vaughey, and by the end of the roughly 45-minute hearing Vaughey was clearly annoyed.
This is corroborated by the other eyewitness account.
Adding to Walker’s difficulties is that Vaughey looks to be in his late 60s at least. He mentioned a few times about being retired. (Apparently it’s common for retired judges to sometimes come back to the bench to help active judges with the caseload.) Many of Vaughey’s statements suggest that he doesn’t spend much time on the Internet. Thus, he’s probably not intimately familiar with things like Google and Twitter and how they work.
It seemed like Walker did himself in when the judge asked, “Where do you see this case going?”
Walker, who has tried to get the Maryland State Attorney to file charges against Kimberlin for filing what Walker claims are false criminal charges against him (see here), replied, “I hope to raise enough consciousness to get the State’s Attorney to file charges.”
“How are you going to do that?” Vaughey asked.
Walker replied, “I’ve been raising awareness. There’s now 400,000 posts on Google discussing him (Kimberlin), and I’m guessing 300,000 of them are not very pleasant. These are people calling for charges to be filed.
If you are a judge who knows very little about the Internet, Walker has just made it sound as though he’s able to generate all of this Google traffic against Kimberlin. And Vaughey seemed to believe that is what caused Kimberlin to get death threats.
This is crucial – Brett Kimberlin set it up with his google alerts to make it seem as if Aaron was sending him messages, and then Aaron made it sound like he was taking responsibility for every blog post about him.
Vaughey then made a remark about what if you disliked a girl and wanted to talk about her chastity. He seemed to think Kimberlin would feel just as violated as that hypothetical girl would feel.
The judge then said that Walker was the type who didn’t want to get into it “mano-y-mano” with Kimberlin but “you want to get together with all of your friends, who have nothing else to do with their time, in this judge’s opinion … and you are creating a conflagration, and you don’t care where it goes. And so you get some freak out in Oklahoma with nothing better to do with his time, so he does the nastiest things he can to this poor gentlemen (Kimberlin). What right does he have to do that?”
“He has no right to do that, your honor,” Walker replied.
“But you incited him,” Vaughey said.
The judge then went into brief discussion on how these things were settled where he grew up in Brooklyn.
This is also substantiated by the other eyewitness, who said, “Judge cited his own upbringing in Brooklyn, where when guys had disagreements like these two did, somebody’d get picked up in a truck and they’d go have it out near the East River or words to that effect.”
At the end, the judge said, “All I’ve learned here is one guy hides behind the sheets while the other guy suffers. I don’t care what (Kimberlin’s) background is. A prostitute can also be raped. He’s an individual, he’s entitled to his own privacy and can’t be threatened. What I didn’t like is these death threats that are coming and his children are reading it. That is nasty and wrong.”
Again, how are his children reading it? The only way they do that is if they purposely seek the posts out. If Aaron is merely writing about the past history of Kimberlin, then it’s neither nasty or wrong.
The judge signed off on the peace order, which means that Walker can’t say one word about Kimberlin for six months.
“I find that this is worse than harassment. It’s a nasty, dirty thing to do to somebody … you’ve got people all over writing these things. He’s got 54 pages that he says come directly from you, and he’s got volumes of people who are doing it.”
A few thoughts: First, never represent yourself. Walker clearly needed an attorney.
Second, it seems that Vaughey doesn’t understand how the Internet works. I or anyone else can write a blog post about “Person A” and urge others to write about it. But I have no control over whether other people do that. And I certainly have no control over whether someone sends a threatening email or tweet to Person A after reading my blog post. Surely, the people who send threatening emails and such should face consequences. But as long as I do not write something along the lines of “send Person A a nasty email,” I’m not in anyway at fault. And looking over Aaron Walker’s blog, it’s clear he never told anyone to do such a thing to Kimberlin.
But, according to Vaughey’s reasoning, I would be at fault. If that’s indeed the case, well, you can probably figure out that the First Amendment has just been gutted.
While Kimberlin and his degenerate associates might be happy about today’s events, I am confident that this was a comedy of errors (or a tragedy), and that if the terrorist maggot will depend on having a senile Luddite for a judge in order to further his litigious tyranny, we will defeat him soundly, and defeat him soon.