Tag Archives: terrorism

Exotic Dancer Arrested for Threatening a Mass Shooting

brien basarich

Brein (Brien) Basarich

An exotic dancer from Lakeland, Florida was arrested last week for allegedly posting threats about a possible mass shooting online. Brein Basarich posted on Tumblr under the username “taking lives” that she was thinking about purchasing An AR-15 and had a “vision” of a bar or club with one way out and plans and firing that rifle into a crowd. Her name has also been reported as “Brien Basarich”, I’m not sure which one is correct.

This is a poor criminal case against her… the ‘threats’ that she posted probably do not qualify as threats under Florida law. While posting something on the internet is sufficient to satisfy the “written” element, generally threats must be pretty specific, and not just generalized talk about her “visions” or conditional claims that she could do something. She will say that musing about her fantasies is not a threat, and that she has a Constitutional right under the first amendment to write about her musings, even if they might be violent or unpleasant. That fist amendment protection does not extends to “true threats“, if this qualifies. Obviously law enforcement is sensitive to the through of a shooting at a club, especially so close to where the Pulse tragedy occurred, but they would likely need something more to sustain a prosecution than has been reported so far. Without that, the prosecutors may be forced to drop the charges. It will probably be a few weeks before the filing decision is made.

Widow of Pulse Nightclub Shooter Acquitted

Noor Salman, 31, was acquitted at trial on her charges of Obstruction and Providing Material Support to a Terrorist Organization for her alleged connection to the shooting at the Pulse nightclub that her husband, Omar Mateen, carried out in 2016. Her attorneys argued that she was an abused spouse, that Mateen concealed much about his life from her, and that there was no way she could have known he would attack Pulse nightclub. Ultimately, a jury agreed that the government did not prove her contributions and found her not guilty. Whether or not she could have done something to stop it is another story: but her failure to stop him would not be criminal.

Donald Trump does not Respect the Judicial System

Screenshot_20171101-135912Donald Trump, currently President of the United States, made comments today that make clear he does not respect our constitutionally based justice system. Discussing the process for prosecuting the New York City terrorist, Trump stated at a cabinet meeting, “We need quick justice and we need strong justice — much quicker and much stronger than we have right now. Because what we have right now is a joke and it’s a laughing stock. And no wonder so much of this stuff takes place.” Fox News, in their online story about the piece, edited the quote to make it sound like he was talking about the immigration system. This quote was not about immigration. This line was about the United States criminal justice system, which Trump has insulted.

This should come as no surprise, as his imperiousness as president has frequently stepped on Constitutional protections. Famously, Trump took out full page ads in NY City papers in 1989 during the prosecution of the “Central Park Five”: 5 young men who were wrongly accused of a brutal beating and rape of a jogger in Central Park. “Muggers and murderers,” he wrote, “should be forced to suffer and, when they kill, they should be executed for their crimes.” “Though he didn’t refer to the teenagers by name, it was clear to anyone in the city that he was referring to them,” said the New York Times. The botched prosecution led to the wrong men being locked up for years, and the actual criminal, serial rapist Matias Reyes, continued to roam the streets attacking women. Even after DNA proved their innocence, and the exonerations are now an exemplar of poor police procedures and wrongful prosecution: a fact the Trump still has not acknowledged. “Quick”, by necessity, has to take a back seat to the more important principle of “justice”.

It’s ironic that he would call the criminal justice system a laughingstock the same week his former campaign chair and other advisers had charges brought against them in Federal court. They are probably happy to be out on bond as their cases are pending, and glad to avail all possible defenses under the Constitution. It’s easy to point at an evil person like the man who drove into a crowd of innocent bikers in New York… but, the Constitution protects us all. The justice system is not one size fits all, and most of the Constitutional protections are to prevent Government overreach, they are to prevent the violations of those rightly and wrongly accused. Our justice system has developed over that last two centuries as a model replicated around the world.

We all want to see justice brought to the New York City terrorist, and all those who would commit crimes against our people. But the system is not a joke. As an attorney, both prosecutor and defense attorney, respect for the Constitution and respect for our individual rights are the starting point for justice, and it is disappointing, albeit not surprising, for Donald Trump to disparage that. This is not a partisan issue… like many Republicans, I believe in our Constitution and our justice system. It’s flawed, and those of us who work in it are always working to better it, but it is not a joke. And I hope that the leaders in this country, on both sides of the aisle, stand up to speak up for it.

-UPDATE-

The White House later tried to walk back Trump’s comments about the justice system. At a briefing later in the day, spokesperson Sarah Sanders denied that Trump said our justice system was a laughingstock, and tried to claim that he was saying the process has people calling us a joke. Video LINK. But that’s not what he said… very clearly he was the one calling it a joke. Here’s his full quote:

“They’ll go through court for years,” he said. “And at the end, they’ll be — who knows what happens. We need quick justice, and we need strong justice, much quicker and much stronger than we have right now. Because what we have right now is a joke, and it’s a laughingstock. And no wonder so much of this stuff takes place.”

The fact that they are trying to reframe the president’s comments shows that they know they are inappropriate. The fact that the White House spokesperson is straight up lying to us about what the president said is embarrassing. I’ll leave it to you to decide who is the joke, here. Sadly, it’s no laughing matter.

Local Station gets to Air Interview with Alleged Domestic Terrorist

Terror Suspect Christopher Cornell

Terror Suspect Christopher Cornell

20-year-old Christopher Cornell was arrested a few weeks back for buying weapons for a planned attack on the White House and Congress. It was shocking in part, because the young man grew up in suburban Cincinnati, he graduated from the same high school that I did, where he competed on the wrestling team. He is facing multiple federal charges for his terrorism-related activities.

The story took a bizarre twist this week when Cornell contacted the local Fox affiliate, Fox 19, and longtime reporter and anchor Tricia Macke. He gave Macke an interview of about an hour via telephone from his Butler County jail cell. The interview is disturbing: Cornell details that if he had not been arrested, he would have shot the president and set off bombs in the Capitol and near the Israeli embassy. He states explicitly that he bought the guns with the intent of committing the acts.

The admissions are devastating for his defense in the pending criminal action, and his attorney sought to prevent Fox 19 from airing the interview. At issue was a court order from Cornell’s bond hearing that ordered no contact with him. At the hearing, the Defense attorney accused the reporter of criminal contempt for contacting him, although it was Cornell who initiated contact with Fox and Ms. Macke.

The First Amendment grants a great deal of freedom to the press to disseminate information that they have, and even gives Cornell a right to speak his mind. While the statements he made are extremely incriminating and devastating to his defense on the case, he has a right to say them. The court upheld that right and found the no contact order to be vague and unconstitutional. Generally, the court doesn’t have standing to order journalists not to interview news suspects: the initial order was probably more intended to protect Cornell’s right to remain silent. However; it’s his right and he can waive it. Kudos to Fox 19 for standing up for the First Amendment.

Teenager Arrested for Making a “Joke” Threat on Twitter to American Airlines

  • Things Not To Do: Don’t Joke about Airline Threats

A Dutch teen published a tweet to American Airlines that seemed to imply she was threatening to do something. AA quickly responded that authorities were being notified. The girl quickly responded that it was a joke, and then blamed her friend. Authorities responded quickly, and placed her under arrest.

First, there is a proof issue of who sent the tweet. The fact that it came from her account, or even her IP address, is not proof that she sent it. However, her first response was not to blame someone else, it was to say it was a joke, and only after she was “scared”. Oops.

Does this case have a First Amendment defense? The short answer is no, she is not in the United States, and therefore doesn’t have 1st Amendment protection. I have no idea what kind of speech protections the Netherlands may have. She probably would not be protected here, as courts generally do not extend 1st Amendment protection to true threats. That’s why Florida can charge a felony for threats posted to social media. The question is whether the initial tweet is a really a threat. It’s pretty vague, so she might be able to avoid conviction, depending on how the Dutch handle such cases.

Don’t joke about threats or terrorism. That kind of action with consideration of consequences is why we treat juveniles differently than adults, but it’s bad news. #thingsnottodo

The Daily Show Nails the Ricin Terror Story

We’ve been covering the story about the Ricin poisoning case, and the government’s incorrect arrest of the WRONG person: an Elvis impersonator who was apparently framed for the terror charge. However, the Daily Show put Crimcourts to shame with their segment on the mis-arrest and subsequent exoneration of Mr. Paul Kevin Curtis. I’d like to think this is how funny my story on the case would be if I could write all the time without having to worry about my day job…

http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/mon-april-29-2013/the-dumb-poisoner-s-handbook

New Suspect Arrested in Ricin Case

James Dutschke

James Dutschke

We covered the erroneous arrest and subsequent release of the man erroneously charged with sending the Ricin letters to President Obama and others: an Elvis impersonator named Paul Kevin Curtis. Curtis has been exonerated and all charges dropped. The arrest of new suspect James Dutschke, who was an acquaintance with some history of disagreement, suggests that he may have framed Curtis by attributing the letters to him. But let’s not jump to conclusions, the government has already made one major blunder in this case by arresting the wrong guy without any direct evidence.

https://crimcourts.wordpress.com/2013/04/23/charges-dropped-against-ricin-suspect-elvis-impersonator/