02 Sep Victory In Trial Of Crucial First Amendment Case
Brown White & Osborn LLP is thrilled to announce today’s successful result in the pro bono defense of our client Peter Wexler.
The United States charged Mr. Wexler with twenty counts arising from his blog posts, claiming that he made criminal threats against an Assistant Director of the FBI. At trial, Brown White & Osborn LLP partner Caleb Mason and co-counsel Marri B. Derby demonstrated that Mr. Wexler’s blog posts were classic examples of political rhetoric and hyperbole that characterized American discourse, and that it was typical of the sort of freewheeling debate familiar to internet users.
Today, a federal jury returned not guilty verdicts on four counts of the indictment and hung, 8 – 4 in favor of acquittal, on the remaining counts. We’ll now ask the court to dismiss the remaining counts because the government’s own evidence shows that the First Amendment protects Mr. Wexler’s speech. Mr. Wexler – a former IT manager and adult literacy program volunteer with no criminal record – spent almost a year held without bail on these charges, even though the FBI’s own agent had previously concluded that Mr. Wexler’s almost identical posts about other public figures were constitutionally protected.
This case represents part of Brown White & Osborn LLP’s commitment to offering pro bono service to the community, especially on important First Amendment cases.
CNN covered the case; their pre-verdict coverage can be found here and post-verdict here.
We look forward to exploring some of the important free speech issues presented in the case after the resolution of the remaining counts. Please contact Mr. Mason with questions.