Monday, March 01, 2010
Isn't it interesting how the FBI is testifying FOR the defense?
Friday’s testimony marked the end of a contentious week, with two dramatically different portraits of the 47-year-old Turner, who grew up in Ridgefield Park. Was he a dangerous extremist or just a shock jock entertainer who was instructed by the FBI to make violent statements as a way of gaining information about white supremacists?
On the witness stand before Pickett testified, Turner was questioned why he called for rape of children and grandchildren of U.S. Supreme Court justices after the court ruled against the death penalty for child rapists.
“That was tongue-in-cheek commentary,” Turner said. “That is again another example of my bravado.”
Later, in describing another instance of extremist commentary, Turner referred to himself as “beating my chest as some Internet tough guy.”
Assistant U.S. Attorney William Hogan, the lead prosecutor, challenged Turner’s credibility and his attempt to portray himself as non-threatening.
At one point, Hogan produced a series of emails by Turner in which he used anti-Semitic and racist phrases.
“You’re not a bigot or a racist?” Hogan asked.
“I’m not on trial for being a bigot or a racist although you are trying to turn it into that,” Turner shot back.
The exchanges between Hogan and Turner became so heated that U.S. District Court Judge Donald Walter interrupted them several times.
“Stop. Stop,” Walter said at one point. “I will not have these arguments back and forth.”
Moments later, the judge ordered Hogan to end a persistent series of questions about whether Turner’s public shock-jock image was real or just a technique for attracting an audience.
“He’s been whipped enough,” Walter said.
When Hogan continued, the judge interrupted again: “Come on, Mr. Hogan. Let’s go.”
Turner’s trial is scheduled to continue Monday, with what defense attorneys say will be more testimony by FBI agents who worked with him as an informant.
Shock jock Hal Turner takes witness stand
Wednesday, March 3, 2010
BY MIKE KELLY
BROOKLYN – Shock jock Hal Turner of North Bergen took the witness stand in his federal trial Wednesday and accused the FBI of urging him to make violent statements as a way of infiltrating extremist right-wing groups.
Turner, who built an audience of neo-Nazis and white supremacists with his radio show, is on trial here on a single charge of threatening three Chicago-based federal appeals court judges. The charge is based on a posting Turner made on his radio network blog last June in which he said the judges “deserved to be killed” for their ruling in a gun control case.
If convicted, he faces 10 years in prison.
In an investigative report last November, based on FBI documents, The Record outlined Turner’s secret FBI role in infiltrating the same groups who were drawn to his radio show and blog. Besides neo-Nazis, Turner said he made contact with the Ku Klux Klan and the Aryan Nation.
In more than two hours of testimony before lunch, Turner described how he was recruited in 2003 by the FBI’s Newark-based Joint Terrorism Task Force. He said he was paid “in excess of $100,000” by the FBI during his almost five years as an informant.
After the husband and mother of Chicago-based U.S. District Court Judge Joan Lefkow were murdered in 2005, Turner said the FBI asked him to “ratchet up the rhetoric” on his radio show in an attempt to “flush out” the killer. As it turned out, Lefkow’s husband and mother were not murdered by right-wing extremists but by a man who was disgruntled with one of her rulings.
Turner’s testimony, which is expected to continue all day, marked a dramatic turnabout in the trial.
In gripping testimony on Tuesday, all three Chicago appellate court judges took the stand and said they felt threatened by Turner’s blog posting that they “deserved to be killed.”
During the first two days of the trial, while prosecutors presented their side of the case, there was no mention of Turner’s FBI link. Indeed, U.S. District Court Judge Donald Walter did not even permit defense attorneys to present an opening statement until after prosecutors had finished introducing evidence and rested their case.
“Here’s where the case get’s very interesting,” said Turner’s lead defense attorney, Michael Orozco, in his opening statement before calling Turner as his first witness.
UPDATE: 3/3/10 - On Tuesday, Judge Bauer testified along with his Chicago appellate court colleagues, Richard Posner and Frank Easterbrook.
Afterwards the prosecution rested its case.
So far, the jury of seven men and five women has not heard any mention of Turner’s FBI connection. But that may change Wednesday.
UPDATE: ...As the retrial got under way Monday, U.S. District Judge Donald E. Walter made it clear that this trial would be handled differently.
He told Turner’s lawyers they could not make an opening statement to the jury until the government has rested its case. He also forbade them from revealing during cross-examination that Turner had worked as an informant for the FBI, providing intelligence on the white supremacist movement, until the defense puts on its own case. MORE HERE
Ultra-right wing radio shock jock and former FBI informant Hal Turner of North Bergen is scheduled to be back in federal court today in Brooklyn, accused of threatening to kill three federal appeals judges.
CHRIS PEDOTA / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER
Hal Turner walks into the Federal Courthouse for the start of jury selection. Turner’s previous federal trial in December on the same charge ended in a mistrial in what was considered a key legal test of First Amendment rights and how to set limits on the Internet.
Those same legal issues are back this time.
For this second trial, however, federal prosecutors indicate in court papers that they plan to call the three Chicago-based judges, possibly as lead-off witnesses. In Turner’s first trial, the judges did not testify.
Defense lawyers have likewise signaled in court papers they again intend to claim that the 47-year-old Turner, who grew up in Ridgefield Park, was urged by the FBI to make provocative statements on the air and on his blog as a way of infiltrating right wing hate groups.
In his first trial, Turner’s lawyers attempted to portray him as a shock jock and showman who never intended to harm the judges — or anyone else.
An investigation by The Record in November, based on a review of confidential government documents, showed that Turner had been recruited by Newark-based FBI counterterrorism agents in 2003 and was paid thousands of dollars to spy on the Aryan Nation, the National Alliance and other extremists.CONTINUED
Posted by Nikki at 3/01/2010 02:23:00 PM