Trial of blogger accused of threatening judges is moved
September 8, 2009 9:26 PM
A federal judge agreed Tuesday to move the case of a blogger accused of threatening three Chicago-based federal judges from Illinois to New York.
In issuing the order, U.S. District Judge Donald Walter said that holding Hal Turner's trial somewhere other than Chicago "would best serve not only justice but the appearance of justice."
Turner, 47, of North Bergen, N.J., was charged with making a death threat against three federal appeals judges after saying in Internet postings in June that the judges "deserve to be killed" because they had refused to overturn handgun bans in Chicago and Oak Park.
Turner also had said on his Web site that the judges' blood would "water the tree of liberty."
The posting included the photos and work addresses of the judges, along with a picture of the Dirksen Federal Courthouse in downtown Chicago and notations indicating the placement of "anti-truck bomb barriers."
Turner's attorneys had asked that the trial not be held in Chicago.
In ordering the case moved to Brooklyn, Walter recalled the February 2005 slayings of the mother and husband of Chicago-based federal Judge Joan Humphrey Lefkow, which were also mentioned in Turner's post.
"Although the motion (for a change of venue) makes no reference to the recent tragedy in which the husband and mother of a member of the District Court for Northern Illinois were slain, the court takes notice of it and the widespread media coverage devoted to it," he said.
"Memories are not so short as to erase the event from the public mind," added Walter, a visiting judge from Louisiana who was assigned to the case.
Randall Samborn, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office in Chicago, declined to comment on the judge's order.
An attorney for Turner, Michael Andrew Orozco, did not return a phone message left at his office Tuesday night.
In a separate case, Turner is due to be arraigned Oct. 19 in Hartford, Conn., on charges of threatening Connecticut lawmakers by urging his readers to "take up arms" against them over legislation on Roman Catholic church finances.
--The Associated Press