A federal judge in Chicago ruled 11 months ago that when White posted personal information, including the home address and phone numbers of the jury foreman in the trial of another neo-Nazi, Matt Hale, the First Amendment allowed White to legally do so. The judge dismissed the indictment charging White with soliciting harm against the juror. The government had maintained that White knew his now-defunct website was viewed by white supremacists who sometimes harm people they view as traitors to the white race.
The Seventh U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the district court judge today, ruling that a jury must be allowed to decide whether White’s actions were protected under the First Amendment. The appeals court sent the case back to the district court judge for further proceedings “consistent with this opinion.”
A spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office in Chicago declined to comment on the ruling. White’s attorney did not return a phone message.
One of the cases the appeals court cited in its decision was that of Hale. He was convicted in 2004 of soliciting the murder of a federal judge in Chicago and sentenced to 40 years in prison.
Hale did not overtly ask another man to kill the judge, the appeals court noted. He asked the other man to find the judge’s home address, and said things such as, “If you wish to, ah, do anything yourself, you can, you know? I’m gonna fight within the law.”
The appeals court said today “a request for criminal action [that] is coded or implicit does not change its characterization as a solicitation.”
A jury is entitled to hear White’s case in order to determine his intent — to have somebody harmed or merely to make a political statement — by posting personal information about the jury foreman in the Hale case, the Seventh Circuit ruled.
“The government has laid out the elements of the crime and the statute that White is accused of violating, along with some specific factual allegations for support, and that is all it is required to do,” the appeals court stated. “The question of White’s intent and the inferences that can be drawn from the facts are for a jury to decide, as the indictment is adequate to charge the crime of solicitation.”
White, who led the American National Socialist Workers Party, will have to ponder this development from a federal prison cell in a medium-security facility in Beckley, W.V. He was sentenced to 2 ½ years in prison in April following his conviction in Roanoke, Va., of three counts of making threats against perceived enemies. The judge dismissed a fourth count on which White had been convicted. In that case, White threatened a bank employee, a university professor and tenants of a Virginia Beach apartment complex via his website, E-mail, the telephone and the U.S. mail. His projected release date is Dec. 26 of this year.