For handing out pamphlets in front of the Orange county courthouse in Orlando, Florida, (judge) Belvin Perry has decided to put renowned 79-year-old liberty activist and former chemistry professor Julian Heicklen in a cage for 145 days. Julian has been convicted of “external criminal contempt of court.”
Readers of this blog will remember that Julian was arrested on August 23rd for violating Perry’s order banning “first amendment activities” near his
Julian is appealing his caging. Perry has granted him an audience on Monday, September 12, at which time Julian could be granted bail (pending the appeal). Mark Schmidter, who was caged 151 days on the same charge, wants to raise $10,000 to fund the appeal. No word yet on how to donate or whether Julian actually wants to hire a lawyer.
Please write to Julian at this address:
PO BOX 4970
Orlando, FL 32802-4970
Please call Belvin Perry at 407-836-2008 and politely but firmly let him know what he is doing wrong and what he should do to make amends.
While researching this news, I came across a couple of intriguing quotes that I’d like to comment on.
I hope Judge Perry passes peacefully in his sleep, so he will no longer be able to put peaceful people in cages.
If Belvin passes away, another man or woman will take his place and do the same thing. This is not a recipe for progress. Instead, we need to help Belvin understand which actions of his are wrong, why and how to make amends for his mistakes. We need to approach him from a position of empathy. We need to listen before speaking. And we need to be relentless.
What an absolutely heartless human being must someone be to throw an elderly man in a cage for exercising his freedom of speech.
*External* criminal contempt of court? Where does it stop: when we’re not able to speak against the robed ones on the public sidewalk, in a park, in our own homes? (Neal Conner)
What an insightful question. Where does this arbitrary and monarchical power of judges stop? What internal contortions are required for one man to cage another for something as harmless and admirable as educating the public about the historical independence of juries?
Please call Belvin at 407-836-2008. Let us know how it goes in the comments.
Update: Here are details on how to visit Julian. He apparently does wish to hire a lawyer for the appeal.
6 replies on “Belvin Perry Puts Julian Heicklen in a Cage for 145 Days”
Careful, merely asking people to send communications of protest to a third party is a federal crime equivalent to computer hacking under Federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA), 18 U.S.C. § 1030. See http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20110809/03492415447/court-says-sending-too-many-emails-to-someone-is-computer-hacking.shtml for an an example.
“[We] conclude that a transmission that weakens a sound computer system—or, similarly, one that diminishes a plaintiff’s ability to use data or a system—causes damage.”
Suggesting people politely call the judge can easily result in 10 years in a federal prison. You may not have an intention of breaking the law, but it is so broad as to apply to what you have already done. All it would take is enough people following your advice and the judge feeling it prevents normal use of his phone.
I do not mean to dissuade this behavior. I only wish to highlight the horrible laws and precedents already set.
Man, what’s up with Orange Counties these days? The one in California is now putting 11 college students on trial for a one-minute, non-violent protest of an appearance by the Israeli ambassador at UC-Irvine.
What happened on the 12th? Is Julian still in a cage?
Julian was released on $1200 bail and is now seeking to raise funds to hire a lawyer.
Here’s my letter to Belvin Perry:
Sept. 17th, 2011
My sources have informed me that you threw the Libertarian hero Julian Heicklen in jail for audaciously overstepping your smug decree that no one may distribute pamphlets notifying people of their power of nullification in front of what is apparently your court house.
Those same sources suggest politely writing to you to encourage some self-reflection.
But I do not feel polite right now.
That is because as a judge in America, one expects you to have some sense of history, and a respect for our shared values. Have you forgotten that the United States of America fought a war of independence to free ourselves of the tyrannical caprices of those such as you?
Where do you get off issuing—and then enforcing, in draconian fashion— such decrees, which fly in the face of the ideals men greater than yourself have laid down for us all?
If you endeavor to continue in the legal field, I urge you to reread the remarks of Adams and Jefferson in the Federalist Papers, regarding fully-informed and empowered juries as the most important mainstay against governmental tyranny. It might shame you, Judge. It should shame you. It might wake you to what your role is supposed to be, and nudge you to the correct side.
I understand that your administrative order restricts the distribution of leaflets disseminating “information tending to influence summoned jurors as they enter the courthouse” in order to protect “the integrity of the jury system.”
Well excuse me judge, but this happenstance leads a critically thinking person to question whether you have the slightest idea what the definition of integrity even is. How dare you!
It is not a juries duty to rubber-stamp the designs of the prosecutor. Do you think that it is? And why do you think that securing such a rubber stamp in your interests anyway? Do you not see that aiding in that goal is exactly what undermines any claim to integrity you may pretend to?
Have you even read the pamphlets that Mr. Heicklen was distributing? If so, did you somehow
fail to take away from it the fact that no actual outcome was being promoted over any other, and
that therefore no type of tampering, or unreasonable influence can be reasonably concluded.
What influences do you regard as appropriate? Those that take from the jury everything which is theirs? What lies behind your contempt for what should be the crowning jewel of our way of life?
The purpose of the jury in this country— a purpose obviously under attack from your ilk— is to judge the facts, the law itself, the fair applicability of the law, and the sentence. It requires faith in a jury, and disdain for the predatory, opportunistic, and diseased machinations of the juggernaut that moves the line year after year after year, increases penalties, enshrines asinine assumptions, and tortures common sense, until two million people are in prison. Due in part to people like you.
I suppose I am in contempt of your court now too, huh? I am, aren’t I? Are you going to send for me now? I would not be surprised. Are you that self-justified in your self-righteous persecutions?
Instead, I urge you to familiarize yourself with what real Americans are saying: idealistic and honest ones— and to divest yourself of any proclivity to toady for the interests of the prosecution.
In other words, get on the right side of the struggle for civil liberties. History will treat you better.
Very truly yours,
John R Burton