Michigan Appellate Court Overrules Minister’s Probation Revocation for Unleashing “Demons” on His Trial Judge

Pastor Gods WrathRev. Edward Pinkney is a minister who relishes the wrath of God — particularly as an extension of his own criminal case. Pinkney recently ordered down fire and damnation upon the head of Judge Alfred Butzbaugh. Judge Butzbaugh took the extraordinary (and unlawful) step of ordering that Pinkney refrain from “defamatory and demeaning” communications as part of his probation. The court revoked his probation after Pinkney wrote the article below calling Judge Butzbaugh a “racist,” “dumb,” and “corrupt,” and predicting his demise at the hands of the Almighty. The Michigan Court of Appeals wisely found the order and revocation to be obvious violations of his first amendment rights.

The case began after Benthon Harbor Commissioner Glen Yarbrough was recalled in a campaign of Pinkney and oters. Yarbrough accused Pinkney of paying people $5 for their votes. Pinkney was ultimately convicted of giving valuable consideration to influence the manner of voting by a person, MCL 168.931(1)(a), influencing a person voting an absent voter ballot, MCL 168.932(h), and three counts of possessing, returning, or soliciting to return an absent voter ballot, MCL 168.932(f). He was given five years probation.

The 15th condition of the order mandates that the defendant was not to “engage in any assaultive, abusive, defamatory, demeaning, harassing, violent, threatening, or intimidating behavior, including the use, through any electronic or print media under [his] care, custody or control, of the mail, e-mail or internet.” It is unbelievable that any prosecutor or judge would include such a blatantly unconstitutional provision in an order. A first-year law student could recognize the provision as an obvious violation of the first amendment.

Pinkney unleashed a diatribe (below) that included the following bizarre passage:

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.

It is nice to see the minister adding Judge Butzbaugh’s family in the hateful curse.

It should have been clear that Rev. Pinkney’s “demons” may be a subject for psychological treatment, but not judicial review.

Butzbaugh_aButzbaugh has been active in the state bar and has a distinguished record, making this excessive order all the more difficult to understand. He held a variety of state bar association positions and helped launch the Access to Justice Campaign to raise funds for civil legal aid services. He was awarded the State Bar’s highest honor, the Roberts P. Hudson award and served as the 65th President of the State Bar of Michigan and on the Bar’s Board of Commissioners from 1992 until 2000. He is a fellow of the Michigan State Bar Foundation and the American Bar Association Foundation. He is also a member of the State Bar of Texas, American Bar Association and the Federation of Insurance and Corporate Counsel.

What is particularly bizarre is that Judge Dennis Wiley (Butzbaugh recused himself) held a probation revocation hearing where it held from Rev. William Wylie Kellerman, a minister in the United Methodist Church, who gave expert testimony that the “threatening” paragraph in the editorial was a paraphrase of several verses from the 28th chapter of Deuteronomy, the fifth book of the Bible. Specifically, Deuteronomy 28:15-22 (King James Version) states:

But it shall come to pass, if thou wilt hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy God, to observe to do all his commandments and his statutes which I command thee this day; that all these curses shall come upon thee, and overtake thee: Cursed shalt thou be in the city, and cursed shalt thou be in the field. . . . Cursed shall be the fruit of thy body . . . . The Lord shall smite thee with a consumption, and with a fever, and with an inflammation, and with an extreme burning, and with the sword, and with blasting, and with mildew; and they shall pursue thee until thou perish.

Kellerman went on to explain that Deuteronomy described a covenant between God and men and that the curses are visited upon men by God. That appears to have been enough for the court which revoked his probation over the use of childish curses. It is hard to see which is most abusive Butzbaugh’s original order or Wiley’s revocation hearing.

For his ruling, Wiley was ultimately awarded the Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression’s award for Jefferson Muzzles — an ignominious award for those who attack or restrict free speech.

Notably, one would have to believe in such curses and Pinkney’s ability to call down such judgments to establish a true threat. We have seen other religious fanatics use such curses as part of their political expressions recently, here. Likewise, neither Wiley nor Butzbaugh can use probation orders to prevent people from speaking poorly to them.
The three judge appellate panel found that the condition “was not directly related to defendant’s rehabilitation or to the protection of the public.” However, it upheld Pinkney’s conviction for voter fraud. Notably, the appellate panel held that some restriction on speech might be appropriate but not restrictions on criticizing the court:

In the present case, defendant was convicted for paying $5 to persons to vote in favor of the recall of Yarbrough and for possessing AV ballots. The 15th condition of defendant’s probation prohibited defendant from engaging in defamatory and demeaning communications. The condition was a blanket prohibition on such behavior; defendant was prohibited from making defamatory or demeaning communications about any person, including coworkers, neighbors, and congregants. Such a blanket prohibition is not directly related to defendant’s
rehabilitation of the election law crimes he committed, which impugned the integrity of the electoral process, or to the public’s protection from a repetition of the crimes. Crandon, supra at 128.37 Prohibiting defendant from engaging in any defamatory or demeaning communications is not primarily directed at preventing defendant from engaging in subsequent crimes that impugn the electoral process. Moreover, a prohibition on defamatory and demeaning communications could be narrowly tailored so that it relates directly to the election law crimes committed by defendant. For example, defendant could be prohibited from engaging in any defamatory or demeaning communications regarding Yarbrough and the other city commissioners.

While the opinion is a commendable rejection of Judges Wiley and Butzbaugh, I do not agree with that last line. I fail to see how “demeaning communications” about the commissioners would be part of a narrowly tailored order.

Pinkney is obviously an unhinged religious zealot who loves to talk about “not taking any prisoners” in his political screeds — such as this video:

For the opinion, click here.

Here is Pinkney’s diatribe:

It is our constitutional duty as American citizens to hold our elected officials accountable for their words, actions and inaction of wrongdoing. We must draw the line and decide what to do if that line is crossed, and we must use our Constitution. Most judges, prosecutors and law enforcement officials have crossed the line in the sand many times. It’s time for the people: poor whites, Blacks and Hispanics to stand together and fight for what is right.

We must fight for justice for all anytime you have a Judge like Alfred Butzbaugh, who is a racist. It took over 53 days to render a fifth-grade decision denying me a new trial. I am a man of God, and an innocent man, convicted by an all-white jury that violated the sanctity of their oath and were motivated by something other the pursuit of truth and justice.

The corruption and the deceitfulness continues in Berrien County Courthouse. In my motion for a new trial, I argued that I was charged but never arraigned, nor did I receive due process by the dumb Judge and prosecutor. I was denied a public trial when the Judge locked the courtroom doors. One of the jurors reported to the Court that during the recess, she saw one of Rev. Pinkney’s attorneys make a drug deal in the parking lot. She lied, saying several Black people came up to her and her husband and asked for money. She was not removed from the jury. The Berrien County Courthouse is so blatantly corrupt that even the legal establishment has been forced to recognize it. It does not provide a just legal system. The corruption starts at the top. They customarily and regularly deprive Blacks and Hispanics of due process.

The corruption and the deceitfulness continues in Berrien County Courthouse. Judge Butzbaugh has violated his oath. I support the constitution of the United States and the State of Michigan; we are still waiting on this racist corrupt judge to do the same. Judge Butzbaugh has failed the people, the community, his duties and his office.

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 Herald Palladium is known as the “Herald Pollution” because of all the racist garbage the newspaper writes. It is led by Julia Swida, Scott Aikens and Dave Brown.

When does it all stop! When are the people going to take a stand? The challenge is clear. The case of Rev. Edward Pinkney is a concentration of the criminalization of a generation of people. This is not a Black issue, nor is it just a person of color issue. It is a whole country issue.

For articles on the case, click here and here.

11 thoughts on “Michigan Appellate Court Overrules Minister’s Probation Revocation for Unleashing “Demons” on His Trial Judge

  1. First, of all you can’t pay for votes to recall someone, but you can pay to get someone to vote for what you want? Makes total sense to me. So he called in the g-d of his belief to make sure that the judge was visited. Sounds like influence peddling to me.

    Second, I am surprised that the Court of Appeals in Michigan overturned a lower court especially for a criminal conviction. That in of its self is an amazing thing.

    Third, just because you are and play on the team does not mean that you are not playing blind. I suspect that even people that work in the world of education have that same problem. Ivory Towers do cost but surly not as much as the tusk of an elephant. In one a life is given up…well it could be in both.

    Fourth, Benton Harbor, Michigan has had its level of unemployment for years. It is the home of whirlpool or maytag something along those lines. I am betting that the judge was betting that the man would not have enough money to fight the appeal. If a Court Appointed Lawyer won this I am amazed.

    Fifth. Its almost gone….

  2. OMG: If someone held me in some sort of contempt for every time I called out an idiot or dumbass, I would be UNDER the jail.

    This country is chock full of boneheads.

  3. I like it…these judges think they hold all the cards…well maybe they do in the court room…the spirit realm is another matter altogether. Hopefully, he’s not too good at evoking curses, otherwise the judge and his family may have something to worry about.

  4. This reminds me of the “genie” story last week. They should just take religion out of courts, period. It looks so nonsense when they have to swear by the Bible also. Religion and law should not mix.

  5. Sent to Michigan Messenger Today

    Hello Ed,

    I just called your main number and was told you would be the best person to contact. Today was the conclusion of one of the most bizarre experiences of my life at the hands of the Michigan State Police and the folks of the Berrien County Judicial system, if you can call it that. I’ll start from the beginning.
    In January my girlfriend and I, now my fiancé, were traveling from Chicago to Traverse City to spend time with my parents and three little sisters. We had left immediately from a LONG day of work and were driving straight through the night. In an effort to paint you a clear picture of the scene, it was freezing, windy, and less than favorable driving conditions. On top of the horrible weather, my fiancé suffers from high anxiety and if I go even 5 miles over the speed limit I usually end up with nail marks in my arm from her panicking. About 1 ½ – 2 hours into the drive we stopped for some dinner and got back on the road. Not long after that a large SUV came barreling in on us at a VERY dangerous rate of speed and once the vehicle was about 3 feet off our rear bumper it slowed to match our speed. I drive a small car so the headlights just a few feet from our back window nearly caused us to lose all sight of the road. After about 10 seconds of this blinding light and total confusion, the police lights came on. Prior to that we had no idea this was a police officer, especially considering the dangerous driving we witnessed. I immediately pulled over.
    Officer Service, yes I cannot believe that is his name either, of the Michigan State Police approached the car and asked for the typical documents. When asked if I knew why he had pulled me over I said, “No.” Please understand I had set cruise control at around 75 once we got back on the highway so when Officer Service informed me that he had “got me” going 92 I laughed out of disbelief. When I asked if he was sure because I had my cruise control on at 75, I was immediately cutoff midsentence by his statement, “Do I smell marijuana?” WHAT?! Confusion grew. I was asked to step out of the car and was patted down. He then proceeded to interrogate me on the side of the road while I sat there in -9degree weather (wind chill) with nothing but a long sleeve shirt. All of my numerous requests for my jacket were denied. He then pulled my fiancé out of the car and patted her down, A FEMALE, much to my disbelief. At this point I was getting annoyed having watched him search my panicking fiancé and having asked numerous times for my jacket and being denied. Freezing. He eventually gave me my jacket after about 10 min of the interrogation.
    Officer service then said he planned to search my car. This was the last straw for me. It took us better part of an hour to pack up that truck and the last ting I wanted was him rummaging through our things and pulling them out on the side of the highway. I told him he did not have my permission to do so because he had no probable cause (my mother is a BRILLIANT ATTORNEY – second highest bar exam score in her year, guess some things rubbed off). He said that he did and I came back with, “well your entitled to your opinion but the fact is you don’t.” He must have agreed because he never once opened my car door. What he did do was take out his German Sheppard and asked if he could let his door smell through the window, I said that would be fine. He did two laps around my car, in the windows, bumpers, and tires, everywhere… It seems I went from having pot in the car to being a drug mule with Marijuana hidden all over my Audi (the typical drug trafficking car). Sure enough, the dog couldn’t have been less interested. It seems that the heightened nasal senses of the dog were surpassed by those of Officer Service, which only begs the question who should be on the leash!
    After 15 or so minutes of searching we were instructed to return to the vehicle. We were left there for another 10 min during which I was convinced my fiancés stress was going to cause her to explode. Officer Service returned to the car and said, “I guess you saw this coming,” and handed me a ticket for going 92 in a 70. Obviously I didn’t see ANY OF THIS coming. At this point I was of course not going to press the speeding issue again because it really didn’t go well the first time.
    And here is where I dive further into the twilight zone…
    I contested the ticket and was given a court date during which I met with a representative from the prosecutors office. She offered me a plea of 75 in a 70 and asked me to sign. I asked if the fine would change and she said she didn’t know. I told her I was unwilling to sign a plea bargain if I didn’t know what I was agreeing to. She left the room stating that she would ask. When she returned she claimed that the there was no guarantees and ultimately it was left up to the Magistrate. I told her I wanted to know how the fine would be affected prior to signing anything and that I would like to have an audience with the judge because I didn’t do anything wrong…I WASN’T SPEEDING! To this she replied that I wouldn’t be allowed to go before the judge, that they would schedule a hearing. So the drive up was so that I could wait two hours, have a 5-minute conversation with a rep from the prosecutor’s office, and leave again. Once our meeting was over I walked over the magistrate and asked about how the fine would be affected if I took a plea bargain… there response. “100% of the time it stays the same.” So it seems she never really asked. Upon leaving the court house I called the State Police office and tried to file a complaint about Officer Service. Sgt. High, I swear that is his name, was courteous but said he could not take a complaint while the case was still open,
    I received a letter summoning me to appear for the next court date. At this point I knew the fine would remain the same so I made several attempts to contact the prosecutors office so I could take the deal and be done with this madness. Each time I was told they would not take calls from me because I was not an attorney. I informed them that I was representing myself and had the legal right to do so and they that therefore they are obligated to speak to me. No luck.
    So the date of the formal hearing…I woke up bright and early at 5am to get out the door by 5:30 so I could make the court date taking into account the time change. I walked out my door and noticed an old blue pickup blocking the exit from our parking lot into he alley. I found out that this scrap metal hunter, very common in Chicago alleys, had broken down and a tow truck was on its way. The tow truck ended up being 5 guys all coming to work on the car. I called the courthouse and was able to get in touch with the prosecutor; I guess she suddenly had no problem talking to me on the phone. I tried to explain that I had been trying to get in touch with her for weeks to finalize the plea bargain and of my transportation problems. She said that due to her and the officer being “inconvenienced” by having to come to court they would go forward with a default decision of guilty because I did not arrive. So driving from Chicago at 5 am cannot be classified as an inconvenience I guess. But not before telling me that had she heard from me sooner she could have still given me the plea bargain.
    When I received notice that I had been found guilty by default I filed an appeal stating that nothing about the incident had even been discussed, that I had called the prosecutor morning of, everything. A few days later I received the prosecutors response recommending that my appeal be denied, and commented on several of my statements that, “they did not have any information on that portion.” So literally they wanted the case closed without going over the facts of the case. True Justice. My appeal was granted by Judge Wiley and a formal hearing was set for today.
    I arrived on time to my hearing and then waited two hours before being called. Judge Wiley seemed to have only granted my appeal for he could berate me about missing my previous court date. At no point was Officer Service of myself asked any questions about the ticket and any time I tried to bring it up Judge Wiley would cut me off. “You should have been here!” was for the most part all that came out of his mouth. When I asked if he had ever had something unexpected happen that didn’t go well at all. He immediately signed something in my court file and put it on the “case closed” pile, ignoring me all I had to say. As I was walking out of the courtroom I mentioned to another defendant, “I guess I can file my complaint with the State Police now because the case is close.” You wont believe what happened next….
    Right outside the door was standing Officer Service and he came right up to me and said, “if you have something to say, say it to my face I’m right here!” I said, “no that’s alright I have nothing to say to you,” and kept walking. He followed me into the lobby.. “Come on Justin, you’ve got nothing to worry about say it to my face!” I kept walking. He followed me into the parking lot. “What’s wrong with you? Can’t you say it to my face?!” I got in my car and smoked the most wonderful cigarette of my life.
    I immediately called the State Police Office again and got on a call with another Sgt. He spent the next 10 minutes trying to convince me that I didn’t need to file a complaint, that Officer Service probably was just trying to make sure I was ok and understood why I had been issued a ticket. I eventually said, “never mind, thanks for your help.”

    And here I am. I don’t know if this has something to do with my last name being Alvarez, which I hadn’t even considered until I read your article about Rev. Pinkney, but let me just say… the only other Hispanic in the court this morning and I had a rough ride today. I hope I didn’t bore you!

    Best,
    Justin Alvarez
    312-286-2769

  6. “It seems that the heightened nasal senses of the dog were surpassed by those of Officer Service, which only begs the question who should be on the leash!” -Justin Alvarez

    Indeed it does. Officer “Service” sounds like a heck of a guy.

    (I can’t speak for Ed, but you didn’t bore ME a bit. Good luck,and post an update, if you would.)

    FWIW:

    http://www.alternet.org/story/151150/america%27s_creeping_police_state?akid=7039.147321.6r3Kg4&rd=1&t=12

  7. please update this story of justin alvarez as “we” r in the process of filing a petition 2 remove judge dennis wiley from the bench. he is on tether 4 a drinking & driving offense & is now placing all defendants on tether 4 all offenses including a man who owes late fees 2 a video rental store. he has been called out by attorneys 4 violating defendants constitutional rights. he also has imposed punishments on people after they have pled not guilty even though he is not scheduled 2 b the sentencing judge. PLEASE update 4 me.

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