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Washington Supreme Court slaps down judge's no-posting injunction in Paul Trummel case

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Wash. Supreme court clarifies long-running Trummel 
harassment/web posting censorship
Date: Tue, 4 Apr 2006 19:05:02 -0400
From: Ethan Ackerman <eackerma@u.washington.edu>
Reply-To: <eackerma@u.washington.edu>
To: Declan McCullagh <declan@well.com>

Greetings Declan,

Your recent post on police retaliation against muckraking journalists
mentioned the Washington state case of Paul Trummel.
Politech readers might be interested to know that the Washington state
Supreme court just (3/30/06) released an opinion in that case.

In a nutshell, the state Supreme Court generally upheld most of the lower
court anti-harassment orders barring Mr. Trummel from contacting and
surveilling residents of the (partially HUD-funded) building, regardless of
his allegedly journalistic intentions, BUT reversed the lower court orders
to the extent they restricted publication of information (even personally
identifying details) on his website.

The Supreme Court recognized the 1st Amendment issues associated with
restricting Internet publication, but chose to resolve the issue on narrower
grounds; the relevant anti-harassment statute allowed a judge to prohibit
'surveillance,' but posting info to the Internet wasn't 'surveillance,' so
the judge couldn't prohibit the posting.

The lawsuits and anti-harassment orders drew several journalism and civil
liberties amici, including some good work from the ACLU of Washington's
Aaron Caplan.  Also, Elena Luisa Garella - whom Politech readers may
remember as the attorney in the justicefiles.org police posting lawsuits -
served as Mr. Trummel's attorney.


ACLU (and associated attorneys) Amicus: (from earlier stage in the

(The American Society of Journalists and Authors amicus was good too,
unfortunately I didn't find it online in a brief search.)


-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Re: [Politech] Police in Florida strike back at critical 
journalist through the Web [fs]
Date: Mon, 03 Apr 2006 17:38:16 -0700
From: Bob Simpson <bob@stormtiger.org>
To: Declan McCullagh <declan@well.com>
References: <4431AB6B.7030708@well.com>

At 04:10 PM 4/3/2006, Declan McCullagh wrote:
 >And then there's the similar case involving Paul Trummel, a Washington
 >state writer who set up the contracabal.org site, although he was
 >writing about an HUD-funded housing project, not the police:

Poking around on the 'net WRT this item:

 >Published March 31, 2006
 >High court overrules trial court in dispute over Web site
 >The Associated Press
 >SEATTLE - The state Supreme Court has ruled that a trial court
 >overreached its authority when it extended an anti-harassment order
 >to restrict information on a Web site.
 >Paul Trummel, former resident of a retirement home that was the
 >subject of his Web site, was jailed for 111 days in 2002 for
 >refusing to edit the site to comply with a judge's order. His
 >attorney, William John Crittenden, called Thursday's unanimous
 >ruling a "strange decision" but indirectly a victory for free speech.
 >"At the end of the day, the determination that Paul was in contempt
 >for putting things on the Internet has been reversed," Crittenden said.
 >Trummel continues to use his Web site to attack Council House,
 >judges who have ruled in his case and to express opinions on a
 >variety of other issues.
 >Names and contact information about Council House residents and
 >staff could not be found on the site Thursday afternoon. Trummel
 >removed the information after his 2002 release from jail.

Posted by Declan McCullagh on Apr 04, 2006 in category free-speech

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