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Wash. state judge gives Trummel until Friday to delete info

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: declan@well.com
From: Elena Luisa Garella <garella@mindspring.com>
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 <emc@artifact.psychedelic.net>
Subject: PI Article
To: declan@well.com
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"


["aufargis@peoplepc.com" appears to be someone who Paul Trummel has 
criticized in the past (http://www.politechbot.com/p-03630.html). --DBM]

To: declan@well.com
From: aufargis@peoplepc.com
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: declan@well.com
From: aufargis@peoplepc.com
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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