Trial Against NJ Blogger Ends in Second Mistrial

Internet radio host accused of threatening three federal Chicago judges

By Matt Bartosik
|  Thursday, Mar 11, 2010  |  Updated 6:45 AM CDT
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Made in Chicago

AP

Hal Turner says the Feds paid him.

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Last summer, an Internet talk show host, known for his incendiary commentary, was accused of declaring three Chicago judges as "worthy of being killed" on his blog.

Should such comments be considered a serious threat or a type of free speech?

There is no easy answer, as two juries have already found out.

On Wednesday, the second trial against Harold "Hal" Turner of New Jersey resulted in a mistrial.

The jurors had been through two full days of deliberations without a unanimous verdict. They told Judge Donald Walter that a third day of conference and debate would be useless.

"Unfortunately, positions have solidified and folks have stated they will not change their minds, no matter how much longer we continue," the jury wrote in a note presented to the court, reports The New York Times.

The judge declared a mistrial, and a third trial has been scheduled for April 12.

The whole drama started last year, when 47-year-old Turner was angry that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, in Chicago, had dismissed lawsuits challenging two local bans on handguns.

"Let me be the first to say this plainly: These judges deserve to be killed," Turner wrote in his blog in June. "Their blood will replenish the tree of liberty. A small price to pay to assure freedom for millions."

Turner allegedly posted the judges' contact information and pictures on his website.

That was a step too far, said William R. Hogan, an assistant United States attorney.

"It is not OK—very definitely not OK—for him to call for their execution and their murder," Hogan said in his opening statement in Turner's first trial in December, reports The New York Times.

But Turner, whose audience is mostly made up of white supremacists and neo-Nazis, was an FBI informant from 2003-2007.

Turner's attorneys argued that the only reason he made the controversial remarks was to help flush out the most radical of his followers.

"He was providing a service," said Turner's lawyer Michael A. Orozco.

Hogan did not say whether the government would try the case a third time. However, "we're going to review it. I'd say it's highly likely," he said, according to the New York Law Journal.

Matt Bartosik is a Chicago native and a social media sovereign.

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