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Title: A Michigan Man Has Been Acquitted by a Jury for Criticizing a County Judge on Facebook
Source: Reason
URL Source: https://reason.com/2019/09/20/a-mic ... ng-a-county-judge-on-facebook/
Published: Sep 20, 2019
Author: Zuri Davis
Post Date: 2019-09-20 20:19:07 by Deckard
Keywords: None
Views: 251
Comments: 10

It took a jury 26 minutes to decide that Jonathan Vanderhagen wasn't guilty.

Jonathan Vanderhagen and Killian

(Nicholas Somberg)

According to Jonathan Vanderhagen's lawyer, it took a jury all of 26 minutes and 8 seconds to decide that he was not guilty of using his Facebook account to threaten a county judge. Reason previously covered the Michigan father's free speech case, which began with a custody battle two years ago.

In 2017, Vanderhagen petitioned the court for sole custody over his 2-year-old son, Killian. Vanderhagen believed Killian's mother to be an unfit guardian. Macomb County Circuit Court Judge Rachel Rancilio, the presiding judge, denied the request and Killian was permitted to continue living with his mother. Killian passed away that September while in his mother's care.

Authorities concluded that a preexisting medical condition contributed to Killian's death. Vanderhagen, however, blamed Rancilio's custody ruling for contributing to his son's death, which he believes would not have happened had Killian been in his care. He used his Facebook page to say as much. For two years, he posted about Killian's mother, the court system, and Rancilio—at times using Rancilio's own public Facebook posts and Pinterest pins to criticize her ruling.

Rancilio was made aware of the posts and an investigation was opened against Vanderhagen. "At no point does [Vanderhagen] threaten harm or violence towards Rancilio," Sgt. Jason Conklin of the Macomb County Sheriff's Office, the investigating officer, concluded in his case report.

Nevertheless, Vanderhagen was charged with the malicious use of telecommunication services, a misdemeanor, in July. "Malicious use" means that Vanderhagen was accused of using a telecommunication service with the intention of terrorizing, intimidating, threatening, or harassing Rancilio. Vanderhagen was ordered to refrain from engaging in direct or third-party contact with Rancilio, including sending "inadvertent messages by way of Facebook."

Prosecutors and presiding District Judge Sebastian Lucido used the following post to accuse Vanderhagen of violating his bond conditions later that month.

The Facebook post features Vanderhagen holding a shovel with the initials R.R., standing for Rachel Rancilio. The post's caption read, "Dada back to digging [and] you best believe [I'm] gonna dig up all the skeletons in this court's closet."

In addition to the Facebook post not being threatening, Nicholas Somberg, Vanderhagen's lawyer, told me that the post was created three days before Vanderhagen received his bond conditions.

Somberg also argued in an emergency bond hearing that Vanderhagen had a First Amendment right to criticize legal authorities. Judge Lucido replied that there were "limits" to free speech. When Somberg asked Lucido to clarify which of the Facebook posts presented to the court were threatening, Lucido said that they 'alluded' to the judge and did not explain his reasoning any further. 

Lucido raised Vanderhagen's bond to $500,000, an amount Somberg told Reason was tantamount to a bond "you would expect for a murderer or rapist."

A jury acquitted Vanderhagen on Thursday of the charge.

Somberg told me that he was "so happy" that justice was served for both Vanderhagen and his son. He used a portion of his closing argument, which was provided to Reason, to remind the jury that the case was first and foremost about Vanderhagen's First Amendment right to free speech:

Our [Founding Fathers] guaranteed us the right to a Jury Trial for situations just like this. That the founders understood absolute power corrupts absolutely and that we should be judged by a jury of our peers, not the government. You all should feel lucky to be sitting for such an important trial. The verdict that you come back with will send one of two very different messages to the people of Macomb County. We either have the right to free speech, or if the people of Macomb criticize our elected officials they better watch out.

Vanderhagen also provided a statemen saying that he was "beyond thankful" to be a free man. He also thanked Somberg for his work on the case.

"The past [two] months have been incredibly hard but it was a journey [I] was willing to take to be the voice my son needed it most," he said. "Hearing of everyone's support while [I] was locked up is what kept me going [and] most importantly kept Killian's spirit alive, [I] know he is smiling down proud [and] feeling like the most special boy in the world."

The original Reason report can be read here.

(2 images)

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#1. To: Deckard (#0)

And the original LF thread on this case can be found here where readers can revel in Deckard calling GI a "pig boy" and GI affectionately responding by calling Deckard a "criminal cocksucker". I dunno, it sounds like sodomite foreplay to me.

LF: Grieving dad jailed for repeatedly criticizing court system in Macomb County

I do like the followup thread; it gives a sense of closure to our earlier reading and namecalling.

Tooconservative  posted on  2019-09-21   0:55:45 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


#2. To: Deckard (#0)

… For two years, he posted about Killian's mother, the court system, and Rancilio— to criticize her ruling.

What a pitifully wasted two years …

“Hate, it has caused a lot of problems in the world, but has not solved one yet.” ― Maya Angelou

What does it feel like, Deckard, when you never accomplish anything through hate?

Salute,
Gatlin

Gatlin  posted on  2019-09-21   3:09:53 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


#3. To: Gatlin (#2)

What does it feel like, Deckard

If I had lost a young child due to the inept and corrupt justice system, I would have probably had similar feelings as Jonathan Vanderhagen who asserted his first amendment right to criticize government - in this case, a judge.

Government is in the last resort the employment of armed men, of policemen, gendarmes, soldiers, prison guards, and hangmen.
The essential feature of government is the enforcement of its decrees by beating, killing, and imprisoning.
Those who are asking for more government interference are asking ultimately for more compulsion and less freedom.

Deckard  posted on  2019-09-21   8:40:43 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


#4. To: Deckard (#3)

… For two years, he posted about Killian's mother, the court system, and Rancilio— to criticize her ruling.

What a pitifully wasted two years …

“Hate, it has caused a lot of problems in the world, but has not solved one yet.” ― Maya Angelou
What does it feel like, Deckard, when you never accomplish anything through hate?

If I had lost a young child due to the inept and corrupt justice system, I would have probably had similar feelings as Jonathan Vanderhagen who asserted his first amendment right to criticize government - in this case, a judge.

Deckard, I have absolutely no doubt that you would not have acted in a similar fashion but you would have acted in even a more severe and extreme hatred fashion. Your hate knows no human limit bounds. You have continued to display that.

But, Jonathan Vanderhagen’s two years of unrelenting vindictive posting on his Facebook page about Killian's mother, the court system, and Macomb County Circuit Court Judge Rachel Rancilio – at times using Rancilio's own public Facebook posts and Pinterest pins to criticize her ruling – did not bring his 2-year-old son, Killian back to him or get Judge Rachel Rancilio removed from the bench. It served no purpose and accomplished nothing.

Repeating: It accomplished nothing.

So, this is now where I point out to you that I did ask you “how would you have acted, I specifically asked you: “What does it feel like, Deckard, when you never accomplish anything through hate?”

Please answer the question. You are well qualified to do so.

Salute,
Gatlin

Gatlin  posted on  2019-09-21   9:10:07 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


#5. To: Gatlin (#4)

aww princess, I don't hate you.

Government is in the last resort the employment of armed men, of policemen, gendarmes, soldiers, prison guards, and hangmen.
The essential feature of government is the enforcement of its decrees by beating, killing, and imprisoning.
Those who are asking for more government interference are asking ultimately for more compulsion and less freedom.

Deckard  posted on  2019-09-21   9:16:04 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


#6. To: Gatlin (#4)

get Judge Rachel Rancilio removed from the bench. It served no purpose and accomplished nothing.

Not yet anyways.

There is now a petition to impeach/recall Judge Rachel Rancilio, A story we have been following very closely is the awful miscarriage of justice that was displayed by Judge Rachel Rancilio from the 16th Circuit Court in Macomb County.

This is a perfect example of the abuse of power so many judges use in our courts but especially out family courts. This judge is the reason why Reform Our Family Courts Now Exists. This is why we wake up every morning 2 hours before our workday starts and sit on the computer typing blogs like this at 9PM.

This judge has hurt a child, a father and grandparents and parents. Rachel Rancilio did this with no regard to anyone but herself and her own selfish interests.

politicallysocial.com/pet...cuit-court-macomb-county/

Government is in the last resort the employment of armed men, of policemen, gendarmes, soldiers, prison guards, and hangmen.
The essential feature of government is the enforcement of its decrees by beating, killing, and imprisoning.
Those who are asking for more government interference are asking ultimately for more compulsion and less freedom.

Deckard  posted on  2019-09-21   9:20:33 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


#7. To: Deckard (#6)

Rachel Rancilio did this with no regard to anyone but herself and her own selfish interests.
Hmmm …

I missed seeing those.

So, since you are closely following this case, I will ask you.

What were Judge Rancilio’s “own selfish interests” in deciding this case?

Furthermore, why did she have “no regard for anyone” when she did not award custody to a father who has repeatedly demonstrated he cannot control his emotional temper?

There is no doubt more to her decision than we are being told. There always is in the cases you post articles about.

Salute,
Gatlin

Gatlin  posted on  2019-09-21   9:38:12 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


#8. To: Deckard (#6)

There is now a petition to impeach/recall Judge Rachel Rancilio …

Now... will this petition actually accomplish something?

I seriously doubt it.

You can find a petition for almost anything.

Most of them do not accomplish anything.

But, you keep a watch out and let everyone knows if this petition does accomplish anything.

Salute,
Gatlin

Gatlin  posted on  2019-09-21   9:43:27 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


#9. To: Deckard (#6)

This is why we wake up every morning 2 hours before our workday starts and sit on the computer typing blogs like this at 9PM.

And just what have the “WE” referred to accomplished doing this – rather than furnish Deckard with material for his daily hate postings?

Salute,
Gatlin

Gatlin  posted on  2019-09-21   9:46:52 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


#10. To: Deckard (#5)

aww princess, I don't hate you.

I know.

I can feel the utmost sincere respect and great admiration for me that you ever so clandestinely express in your posts.

It is duly acknowledged and appreciated …

Attaboy - Keep it coming.

Salute,
Gatlin

Gatlin  posted on  2019-09-21   10:01:25 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


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