June 30, 2009

Internet Radio Talk Show Host Hal Turner Arrested for Threatening Three Federal Appeals Court Judges in Chicago Over Recent Decision Upholding Handgun Bans

CHICAGO -- Hal Turner, an Internet radio talk show host and blogger, was arrested June 24 by FBI agents at his home in North Bergen, N.J., on a federal complaint filed in Chicago alleging that he made Internet postings threatening to assault and murder three federal appeals court judges in Chicago in retaliation for their recent ruling upholding handgun bans in Chicago and a suburb.

Internet postings on June 2 and 3 proclaimed "outrage" over the June 2, 2009, handgun decision by Chief Judge Frank Easterbrook and Judges Richard Posner and William Bauer, of the Chicago-based 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, further stating, among other things: "Let me be the first to say this plainly: These Judges deserve to be killed." The postings included photographs, phone numbers, work address and room numbers of these judges, along with a photo of the building in which they work and a map of its location.

Turner, 47, of North Bergen, N.J., was arrested this morning after FBI agents went to his residence to execute a search warrant. He was charged with threatening to assault and murder three federal judges with intent to retaliate against them for performing official duties in a criminal complaint filed today in U.S. District Court in Chicago. He was scheduled to have an initial court appearance at 12:30 p.m. June 25 before U.S. Magistrate Judge Michael A. Shipp in U.S. District Court in Newark.

Hal Turner

Hal Turner

"We take threats to federal judges very seriously. Period," said Patrick J. Fitzgerald, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois.

According to the complaint affidavit, several lawsuits were filed challenging handgun bans in Chicago and suburban Oak Park after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2008 that the Second Amendment entitles handguns at home for self-protection. On June 2, 2009, the 7th Circuit issued an opinion in National Rifle Association v. Chicago, Nos. 08-4241, 08-4243 & 08-4244, affirming a district court's decision to dismiss the cases challenging the local handgun bans. The unanimous decision was written by Chief Judge Easterbrook and joined by Judges Posner and Bauer.

On June 8, 2009, law enforcement agents were directed to postings on a web site. The front page of the site contained an entry dated June 2, 2009, that was titled: "OUTRAGE: Chicago Gun Ban UPHELD; Court says 'Heller' ruling by Supreme Court not applicable to states or municipalities!" After describing the decision, a lengthy entry followed, which is contained in the complaint affidavit. In addition to proclaiming "These judges deserve to be killed," the entry notes that it was the same 7th Circuit Court of Appeals that decided the case of Matt Hale, a white-supremacist who was imprisoned after being convicted of soliciting the murder of a U.S. District Court judge in Chicago. The entry further noted that the same judge's mother and husband were murdered by a gunman in her home. The posting then stated:

"Apparently, the 7th U.S. Circuit court didn't get the hint after those killings. It appears another lesson is needed."

The complaint charges that the posting was updated the next morning on June 3, 2009, with the following content:

"Judges official public work addresses and a map of the area are below. Their home addresses and maps will follow soon. Behold these devils."

Below this headline, the entry listed the names, photos, phone numbers, work addresses and room numbers of the three judges involved in the handgun decision, as well as a photo of the Dirksen Federal Courthouse in Chicago and a map. The photo of the building had been modified to include arrows and a label referencing "Anti-truck bomb barriers," according to the affidavit.

If convicted, threatening to assault or murder a federal judge carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The court, however, would determine the appropriate sentence to be imposed under the advisory U.S. Sentencing Guidelines.

Comments (16)

The most important right being the 2nd amendment because it oversees all others.

Posted by: JWallace | July 5, 2009 8:48 AM    Report this comment

Lose One of our Cinstatutional rights and we will lose them all

Posted by: bear1 | July 3, 2009 1:07 AM    Report this comment

Gaviota, May I say God Bless your family and Your son and Please tell him Welcome Home from One Vet to another, He is a True Patriot, and so are you. I can understand because I still do not sleep much after almost 40 years since I return from Vietnam and like the Col. I where may VFW,or one of my Viet. Vet hats, I also understand about the VA because I am Disabled because of My service, with the 18th Combat Engineers, Also Welcome Home to you Col. you are In my Prayers all of you, May the Great Spirit hold you, your son, and all our Troops Past, Present, and Future In his Hand. Now for this post it just goes to prove that we are losing our 1st amendment rights alittle at a time because of some one has no self esteam so will take anything you say as a threat no matter how you ment it.
God Bless America
Locked, Loaded, and keeping my Powder Dry

Posted by: bear1 | July 3, 2009 1:02 AM    Report this comment

Gentlemen, I am truly overcome with gratitude for your support, kindness, and generosity. You have all proven once again that the gun rights community is filled with the best people that America has to offer. God bless you all, and I and my family thank you from the bottoms of our hearts.


Posted by: Lee W | July 2, 2009 2:47 PM    Report this comment

Internet rants about offing judges or killing law enforcment when they "come to take my guns" is extrememly destructive to our 2nd Amendment cause. Such blather only serves to create an unseemly image about gun owners, the NRA and our advocates. Our rights hang by a thread politically and every vote counts (see Minnesota)and to alienate the "in the middle voters" with scary asinine commententry like this will be the beginning of the end.

Posted by: Squirmydad | July 2, 2009 12:32 PM    Report this comment

Gaviota, please tell your son he's a great American and thank him for his service to our great country for me.

Posted by: Robert J | July 2, 2009 12:13 PM    Report this comment

Mr, Gaviota i will pray for you're family.

Posted by: gunreports | July 2, 2009 12:02 PM    Report this comment

This case is a model for us to keep in mind when we feel like we want to blow off some steam. We are free to think whatever we desire, but it pays to be careful about what, where, and how we say it. Big Brother IS watching! First Amendment rights, like Second Amendment rights and all other rights are valid only when personal responsibility is applied in the exercise of those rights.

I join with the other bloggers on this forum in praying for the recovery of your son, Gaviota. As a 4th Infantry Division combat
veteran of the Vietnam War, I understand his
reluctance to discuss his wartime experiences.
Others will know of my combat service by the pin I often wear, along with a Viet Vets cap,
but not much else is needed to convey the message.

Posted by: canovack | July 2, 2009 11:45 AM    Report this comment

It's hard to say it better than Tim C., but ...
Gaviota: May the Good Lord bless your son and bring him peace of mind. Thank you both for your service and sacrifice to us all.

Posted by: mookien | July 2, 2009 11:04 AM    Report this comment

Gavfiota, you nailed this post. There is nothing i can add except GOD bless you and your son for your priceless service. Your son goes on my family's permanent prayer list. I hope he can get to sleep some very soon. It is so damned hard to function when you can't get a decent sleep.

Posted by: Tim C | July 2, 2009 10:42 AM    Report this comment

This is a 1st Amendment issue and that is what the defense will be. Strangely, the ACLU will probably take up the case. The ACLU will never directly defend the 2nd Amendment, but in this case, they probably will.

Posted by: BaldEagle1938 | July 2, 2009 10:02 AM    Report this comment

be careful what you say and write some nut may take you up on it

Posted by: bob h | July 2, 2009 9:41 AM    Report this comment

Thanks, Jeff. He's getting treatment from the VA, but it's going to be a tough slog. For all of us. God bless all veterans of all wars. It's sure a hell of a way to settle our differences.

Posted by: Lee W | July 1, 2009 8:51 PM    Report this comment

Gaviota, your 1st sentence brings back memories of conversations between my grandfather and I when I was ten years old. He also informed me it's the quiet guy that stands alone and observes the crowd that you need to concern yourself with. He was a good friend of Jack Dempsey and thought Jack was the true essence of man. Sorry to hear about your son's unfortunate experience in Iraq.

Posted by: JWallace | June 30, 2009 11:15 PM    Report this comment

This guy didn't threaten anybody. He's a big-mouth windbag without the core of evil in his soul necessary to actually do what he claims to believe needs doing. He doesn't have the gonads for murder, but he's being made an example of by a bunch of hypersensitive authoritarian bullies who do this kind of shit because they can.

People who run their mouths are never the people who actually accomplish the deeds. Boasters and braggarts are usually cowards, seeking to cover their real inadequacies with imaginary glory. I saw a lot of that after 'Nam. My service never took me to 'Nam, and I've never actually heard a shot fired in anger, thank God, and I'd like to keep it that way. But I could tell the real 'Nam vets from the imaginary ones in about 5 minutes. The real ones didn't talk about it except among themselves, quietly, and then only when they'd had enough to drink. My son, left with head injuries from RPG and IED attacks in Baghdad during his two tours doesn't like to talk about it. He drinks too much, suffers from near-permanent headaches and hasn't had a decent night's sleep in three years due to the pain and the nightmares, but he won't talk about it, except to other vets. Which fortunately includes me.

I hope Hal Turner come out of this okay, but his beating his gums didn't accomplish anything except bring him to the attention of the Chicago Machine. Nobody needs that crap.


Posted by: Lee W | June 30, 2009 10:36 PM    Report this comment

I don't think the charges will hold. I read this statement as an opinion more than a death threat. I'm not sure that posting public information on the internet is a crime as well. Sounds like Hal was just a little T'd off over the ruling. The US certainly has it's share of useless people filling important positions.

Posted by: JWallace | June 30, 2009 10:26 PM    Report this comment

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