Friday, December 12, 2008

Strangeness in Michigan

I confess that I think of Michigan as a place where even the loony left is boring; but two court cases in the news yesterday make me reconsider that prejudice. In the first court case, a harmless nut by the name of Diane Andersen Anderson was jailed for writing a web page that criticized a probate judge:

Twice Monday, [Wayne County Probate Judge David Szymanski] jailed Diane Anderson over the Web site and ordered the site to be “shut down immediately.”

“Yes, I was going to keep her in jail until the Web site was shut down,” Szymanski admitted Wednesday. He said he acted out of frustration with Anderson's argumentative behavior.

(Source: Detroit Free Press)
Judge Szymanski rescinded his order and ordered Ms. Anderson released after some lawyers pointed out that there are laws against locking people up for what they write. According to the Free Press, he said "I may take some lumps for that -- but so be it."

In the (creepily similar) second case, a Baptist minister called Edward Pinkney in Grand Rapids was jailed for quoting the book of Deuteronomy in a way that didn't flatter a state judge:

Judge Butzbaugh, it shall come to pass; if thou continue not to hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy God to observe to do all that is right; which I command thee this day, that all these Curses shall come upon you and your family, curses shalt be in the City of St. Joseph and Cursed shalt thou be in the field, cursed shall come upon you and your family and over take thee; cursed shall be the fruit of thy body. The Lord shall smite thee with consumption and with a fever and with an inflammation and with extreme burning. They the demons shall Pursue thee until thou persist.

The quote is from a rag called the "People's Tribune", and Rev. Edward Pinkney is such a flake that he was only able to garner 1% of the vote in a Green Party primary. The gist of his story in the People's Tribune was that Judge Butzbaugh allowed a series of unlawful things to go on in his courtroom during Rev. Pinkey's trial. His most incredible accusations were that he was tried without even being arraigned; that he was convicted after a secret trial; and that a juror claimed to be a witness to one of the accused 's attorneys committing a crime in the parking lot of the court!

Normally if you heard accusations like this from a source like Rev. Pinkney in a paper like the People's Tribune you'd roll your eyes and ignore them. But now it's reasonable to wonder whether there's anything to his accusations. (At least, I so wonder. The reporter doesn't seem interested enough in Rev. Pinkney's allegations to tell us the back story.) What's going on in Michigan?

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