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Free Speech

"Let Me Kidnap Your Daughter and See If You Don't Get Angry" = Punishable Threat Against Judge


From People v. Brown, decided today by the Colorado Court of Appeals, in an opinion by Judge James Casebolt, joined by Judge David Furman (over a dissent by Judge Lino Lipinsky):

When does a statement by an irate and angry respondent parent in a dependency and neglect (D&N) case rise to the level of a "credible threat" that may be punished under section 18-8-615, [Colo. Rev. Stat.] 2021, which proscribes retaliation against a judge?

In this case, Adrian Jeremiah Brown appeals the judgment of conviction entered on a jury verdict finding him guilty of violating that provision when, after being told by the D&N judge that he must undergo a domestic violence evaluation or anger management therapy, he stated, "Let me kidnap your daughter and see if you don't get angry. As a matter of fact, where do you live, Your Honor? Let's see if we can get this all resolved. See if you would be angry."

We conclude that this statement, when coupled with other circumstances detailed below, was not constitutionally protected and constitutes a "true threat" under the recent Colorado Supreme Court case of People in Interest of R.D., 2020 CO 44. We thus affirm Brown's conviction….

The opinions are long and detailed, and can be read here.