North Carolina Supreme Court Upholds Judicially Mandated Speech And Censorship On Blog

An opinion out of North Carolina is raising very serious concern over free speech this week.  The North Carolina Court of Appeals upheld the actions of William Coward, a Macon County judge, who not only convicted a blogger of the crime of recording a court hearing, but went further to force  Davin Eldridge to write and post a lengthy essay about respect — and then delete any negative comments from those objecting to the judicially-coerced speech.  The opinion in my view is an outrageous overreach of judicial authority and an attack on free speech. Yet the North Carolina Supreme Court has now upheld the sentence without any opinion.
      There is no debate that Eldridge was wrong to record the proceedings and that the court was within the law in holding him in contempt. However, Coward went further to judicially-coerce speech and then censorship. As noted in passing by the appellate court, the trial court ordered Eldridge to

draft a 2,000-3,000 word essay on the following subject: “Respect for the Court System is Essential to the Fair Administration of Justice,” forward the essay to Judge Coward for approval, and following approval, post the essay on all social media or internet accounts that defendant owns or controls or acquires hereafter during his period of probation and attributed to defendant, without negative comment or other negative criticism by defendant or others, during said period of probation…

The judge and the appellate court insisted that judges have discretion under section 15A-1343 of the North Carolina General Statues (“Conditions of probation”) to “impose conditions of probation reasonably necessary to insure that the defendant will lead a law-abiding life or to assist him to do so.” N.C.G.S. § 15A-1343(a). “

What is astonishing is that the appellate court spends relatively little time on the publication and censorship elements of the orders. Instead, it spends pages on easy questions like the contempt sanction and a recusal motion. After describing the extraordinary order on the essay and censorship, the court simply notes that :[d]espite defendant’s argument that his sentence was ‘contrary to law,’ he cites to no authority in support of that argument.”

Even if true, that does not relieve the responsibility of the court to be satisfied that the opinion is not contrary to constitutional law.

The cursory treatment given by the appellate court seems almost verbose in comparison to the less than one page long decision upholding the appellate court by the North Carolina Supreme Court.

51 thoughts on “North Carolina Supreme Court Upholds Judicially Mandated Speech And Censorship On Blog”

  1. This is a huge deal but may not seem like it. Government officials will blatantly break the law and violate their Oath of Office, if they perceive themselves as LOYAL in their abuses and law-breaking (ex: J. Edgar Hoover). McCarthyism even used a false-loyalty oath (that totally violated the American Oath of Office) in order to act as an Orwellian “Thought Police”. J Edgar Hoover betrayed his real loyalty oath by creating a false-loyalty oath, then punishing loyal Americans. Since 9/11, many Americans are harassed by police and federal agencies for “thoughts” not actions. We are punished for thinking wrong. It’s not just Russia anymore.

    If these oath-sworn officials are correctly viewed as not only breaking laws but DISLOYAL to the American Oath of Office, only then will things change. We can’t let unconstitutional authoritarian have a pass in James Madison’s government.

    Comprehensive “Oath of Office” annual training for police chiefs, FBI Directors, CIA Directors, NSA Directors, etc. seems vitally important in our new Orwellian 21st Century. I’ve asked my members of Congress to enact this vital reform. Anyone with any governing authority, over any of us, voluntarily agreed to that Oath of Office to uphold the U.S. Constitution. Those that are disloyal to their oath should be viewed that way.

  2. Colonel Vindman could not be reached for comment. Daniel Ellsburg could not be reached for comment. The “Whistleblower” could not be reached for comment.

  3. There is no point to further “political” opposition.

    The communists (liberals, progressives, socialists, democrats, RINOs) steal and cheat.

    The judicial branch, with emphasis on the Supreme Court, acts politically, not juridically, and has failed to support the “manifest tenor” of the Constitution and Bill of Rights, commencing with the “Reign of Terror” of “Crazy Abe” Lincoln.

    The executive and legislative branches have taxed for individual welfare, charity and redistribution of wealth, not “…general Welfare…,” without any legal basis or authority, nullified freedom of speech, religion, press, assembly (inversely segregation), the right to private property, killed the American energy and other industries, are forcing Americans out of gas cars and into electric vehicles through communistic central planning, and is allowing the literal invasion of the country by foreign citizens and by not securing national borders.

    The judicial branch has utterly failed to exercise its power of “judicial review” obtained in Marbury v Madison, allowing the full imposition of the principles of the Communist Manifesto, those being central planning (QE, alternative energy), control of the means of production (i.e. regulation), redistribution of wealth and social engineering.

    The executive, legislative and judicial branch are deliberately “fundamentally transforming” and weakening the nation and have committed treason by causing the subsumption of America by the Chinese Communist Party and “…adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort.”

    The communists (liberals, progressives, socialists, democrats, RINOs) stole the election in Myanmar and the nation’s patriots declared martial law.

    The situation in America is irredeemably beyond the pale.
    _____________________________________________

    The American Founders

    “But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and

    to provide new Guards for their future security.”

    – Declaration of Independence, 1776

  4. What are your thoughts on this case, Jonathan?

    “US Lawyer Steven Donziger Speaks From House Arrest in NYC After Suing Chevron For Amazon Oil Spills”

    1. “US Lawyer Steven Donziger Speaks From House Arrest in NYC After Suing Chevron For Amazon Oil Spills”

      “And what we want, as the human rights and environmental justice community, is for this new administration to check the corporate power that has manipulated the judicial system to turn Steven Donziger into an example of what will happen if you stand up to corporate power in the United States. And it’s a seriously chilling one.” — Paul Paz y Miño

      A brief excerpt:

      AMY GOODMAN: So, I wanted to bring Paul Paz y Miño into this conversation, associate director of Amazon Watch. You, Amnesty International, National Lawyers Guild and others are now appealing to Attorney General Merrick Garland.

      “The real thing that’s going on here is Chevron is attempting to literally criminalize a human rights lawyer who beat them. He’s never been accused, let alone convicted, of a crime anywhere. And now Chevron’s machinations by Lewis Kaplan, this federal judge, and Preska, the judge that he has appointed, are on the cusp of turning him into a criminal because he didn’t comply with Kaplan’s outrageous contempt of court orders.

      “And so, Steven Donziger, for Chevron, is a tactic. It’s a tactic for them to avoid talking about what they actually did, and have the world not look at what they actually did in the Ecuadorian Amazon. And what we want, as the human rights and environmental justice community, is for this new administration to check the corporate power that has manipulated the judicial system to turn Steven Donziger into an example of what will happen if you stand up to corporate power in the United States. And it’s a seriously chilling one.”

      Letter to Merrick Garland::

      https://amazonwatch.org/assets/files/2021-02-16-doj-letter.pdf

  5. Libertarianism is a philosophy and practice of self-organization. Liberalism is divergent. Progressivism is [unqualified] monotonic change. Conservativism is moderating. American conservativism is Pro-Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness. The governing spectrum is from anarchy on the far right to totalitarianism on the far left. The left-right nexus is leftist. The State-established quasi-religion is Pro-Choice, selective, opportunistic, relativistic (“ethical”), and politically congruent.

    1. If you call George W. Bush personally fomenting war in the ME, doubling the national debt in 8 years, and overseeing international war crimes by his VP “conservative” then, well, I rest my case on “conservatism.”

      Re. Israel: what is “conservative” about “conservatives” declaring the US and Israel have an “unbreakable bond” when George Washington, in his Farewell Address, forbade any and all “permanent foreign entanglements?” Whom is correct, GW or modern “conservatives?”

  6. The good news is with all speech and manner of expression suppressed and/or banned, the left will never see or know in what form, or when the inevitable backlash against them is coming as the pendulum swings back.
    The explosion of seething rage from the millions within the Silenced Majority will catch them by surprise.

    1. There is no “silent majority,” unless they’re silent by choice. Anyone who wants can speak in the public square.

      1. Read again. I said “SILENCED MAJORITY.”
        There’s plenty of People who are silenced by socially engineered political extortion
        and who choose to keep the ability to feed their children or not destroy their lifes work or not get shot for exercising their Constitutional Rights over speaking out.

      2. They “can,” but they will suffer retribution. That is NOT what the Founders had in mind with the First Amendment.

        1. They won’t suffer retribution from the government, which is what the Founders were addressing in the First Amendment.

          Can you name a time when no one faced retribution from other people for their speech?

          1. They won’t suffer retribution from the government, which is what the Founders were addressing in the First Amendment.

            Really? Then this unconstitutional condition of his probation is voluntary?

            1. You seem to be having a hard time following the conversation, Olly. I said “Anyone who wants can speak in the public square.” Suze responded “They “can,” but they will suffer retribution,” and I noted that “They won’t suffer retribution from the government.”

              Eldridge was punished for the crime of recording a court hearing, not for speaking in the public square. I don’t agree with his sentence, but it’s not an example of what Suze and I were discussing.

              1. I’m following the thread just fine. He was sentenced to probation with the condition to speak in the public square exactly what the court ordered him to speak and to delete comments in that public square, not approved by the court order.

                Now, back to the question: Then this unconstitutional condition of his probation is voluntary? If not, then he will suffer retribution for defying an unconstitutional order by the court (government).

                Try again.

                1. Try again yourself. He wasn’t sentenced FOR speaking in the public square. It’s not an example of the topic I was discussing. Learn the difference between being sentenced FOR and being sentenced TO.

                  1. Nope. While he violated the law in recording courtroom proceedings, his sentence (punishment) forces him to craft a court-approved 2,000 – 3,000 word essay and publish it in the public square. What he has been sentenced to is court-approved speech, which is not related to what he was convicted for, which was contempt of court. Had he published a legally obtained courtroom recording, on FB or some other platform, would he be protected under the 1st amendment? I believe the court could order him to craft an essay directly related to his criminal contempt. They could condition the probation that he doesn’t repeat the violations for a period of 1 year. But forcing him to publish the essay and to monitor and remove negative comments, forces him to act as spokesperson for the government.

                    1. I wasn’t discussing what people are sentenced TO. Work on your reading comprehension. “Anyone who wants can speak in the public square. … They won’t suffer retribution from the government” is about being sentenced FOR speech, not sentenced TO speech. But I have no problem clarifying that there is indeed some speech that’s illegal (such as child p0rn), for which the perpetrator will have to deal with retribution by the government.

                      I already said that I don’t agree with his sentence.

                    2. I wasn’t discussing what people are sentenced TO.

                      However, in this case you have to consider both, what he was sentenced to and for. He was correctly convicted for one thing and sentenced to something beyond the scope of his illegal action. His criminal contempt complaint was On 3 December 2018, Judge Coward issued a show cause order for defendant to appear and show why he should not be held in criminal contempt. The show cause order made it clear the notice of hearing was based on defendant’s usage of a recording device inside the courtroom.

                      Had he not published the recording, he would still be in violation of the law. If the judge had ordered he write the essay, then that is directly related to the law he violated. As far as I know, he wasn’t charged for publishing the recording. Perhaps he should have been. But the judge extended his sentence to force him to speak in the public square as a condition for his probation. If he refuses that portion of the order, will he not suffer retribution by the court?

              2. Yet his crime was only known because of what he published in the public square. Had he not published, he would not have been prosecuted. So, is it true that he was prosecuted purely for recording and not for publishing? Would he have had this sentence if what he had published had been favorable or is this ruling in fact about the content published?

                You can play about with your words all day like a circle, but common sense Europeans will eventually have had enough of your games.

                1. “his crime was only known because of what he published in the public square.”

                  That’s not true. A bailiff saw Eldridge recording and told him to stop.

      3. The long arm of the law seems to have stretched to the point of pulling a muscle in this particular case.

    2. We have passed the point of no return. They are using Mao’s playbook…the Little Red Book. The good professor is a voice crying out in the wilderness. John the Baptist was, too. And you know where that got him. Terrifying times.

      1. Suze and Dawn, the glib gaslighting by trolls is exhausting to many of us, but somebody should speak up and defend Professor Turley every single day. I thank you for it.

    3. Does it seem like we’re not aware of you stamping your foot and having temper tantrums? Does it seem like we didn’t learn that the way for progressives to regain power is to listen to voters of color, black women in particular. Does it seem like repubs didn’t notice the same thing, hence their no subtlety allowed attempts to block them from the voting booths?

      Those anti democratic efforts will either succeed or fail — but there will be no surprise involved.

      EB

        1. I know right? Much as I’d like to think talking to you would fulfill my daily checklist of things to do in Russia I guess the list could conceivably be endless I suppose.

          EB

  7. The money and emotional energy required to fight this type of abuse is staggering.

    Most people throw up their hands and move on.

    Only a few rich and dedicated people have the means to fight.

    Bad law.

    1. Which means they have won. Only a matter of time before we start seeing arrests for offensive speech.

  8. Went in dumb. Come out dumb too. Hustling round Raleigh in their alligator shoes. They’re keeping freedom down!

  9. JT take the case to the SCOTUS, if they will hear the case, and argue for free speech and get the decision over ruled.

    1. SCOTUS is busy cowering from the oligarchic technocratic collectivists:
      Megalomaniac geo-social engineers: Deep State: Dystopians
      in Washington D.C.

      1. If true, and I believe your comment to be true, where do us conservatives go from here to move forward in America? If we are losing the battle with stolen elections, big tech and big government control, loss of freedom, DC control of elections now not the states, our republic gone, socialism here to stay, radical speech police knocking at our door to shut up or else and taking our guns away…is it already to late…it’s just like cancer…if you catch it early you have a good chance for survival…I think the cancer has already spread to far to save the country.

        1. Like clockwork, another trumper gets caught in the to/too dynamic.

          And, just an observation, if the shoe was on the other foot, and you were listening to the chosen grievances of the ‘other’ side, I’m old enough to remember the standard response being something along the lines of: if you don’t like then move.

          In the meantime, one suggestion would be for you ‘conservatives’ to actually become conservative again and realign with the principles that originally defined your cause. Pre Reagan being conservative meant being protective of the environment. It meant aiming toward wise spending rather than no spending, Now, if spending doesn’t benefit the wealthy you hate it and deficits only matter to you when Dems are in office, evidenced by Dems being the only ones to actually reduce deficits while in office. Trump actively scorned financial responsibility as did Cheney before him for that matter (one of his most famous quotes being that deficits don’t matter).

          Conservatives were always prone to racialized politics — but at least you tried to hide it at one point and didn’t let it overtly drive the party. Maybe take a look at why you lose elections rather than trying to rig the game for minority rule?

          Elvis Bug

              1. So E.B. you studied the Russians while you were in Washington building stone walls? Please enlighten us with a timeline. Where your studies under Chomsky and or Saul Alinsky? Please reference your favorite tome so that our education can follow the same path to the real understanding. Were you building stone walls after or before your Russian studies or were your studies just an osmosis continued by your influencers (handlers) over a long period of time. We learn more and more about your life each passing day. We should have understood that you were under heavy physical labor forced upon you by your oppressors. I chipped rock with a pickax for one day and decided right then and there that my fate would not be found in that quarry. Every day I am grateful that I live in a nation were the government did not make the determination as to my station in life. Do you really think that more government control will somehow not limit the options of it’s citizenry? You can follow behind and watch the leftist fall off the turnip truck.

          1. I am 72…live in a small 1 bedroom apartment…drive a used F150 truck less than 2,000 miles a year…I ride my bicycle about 5,000 miles a year and walk more than I drive…now who is greener Elvis bug…you or me!!!…Biden is raising taxes more this year than in the last 30 years…it wont hurt the wealthy like you Elvis bug but what about the other 80% plus of the work force…will they get a raise…NO but their costs to live will skyrocket…their savings gone…more homeless…living with family if they are lucky…no insurance…no healthcare…can’t afford it…no house ,no kids, no education, but I’m sure Biden has all the answers…sounds like fun times ahead…no wonder the youth see no hope and end up on drugs or suicide…tell me Elvis how to fix it…Biden as Emperor…or dictator…be very careful what you vote or wish for…it never ends in the garden of Eden…you are confusing fantasyland with reality…big mistake.

            1. Ha! Awesome. I drove a used F150 that I had from my days building stone walls until the drive shaft and both ball joints in front broke as I was driving on the highway. It was a remarkable set of occurrences, let’s just say that. I also bike anywhere I go unless I have to carry something too heavy on the way — even in the winter. My health insurance went up just under 50% while trumpy bear was in office. Biden is not raising my taxes, indeed, Biden hasn’t released a new tax plan yet.

              I came out $13 ahead last month…

              Looks like the main differences between you and i are that you have 12 years on me and that I don’t watch Fox news except for comedic relief.

              EB

              1. https://www.cms.gov/files/document/4120-health-insurance-exchanges-2020-open-enrollment-report-final.pdf
                Hey E.B. under the U.S. health insurance exchange your premiums would have gone down in 2020. You could have been under government (Obama) insurance instead of being a sucker on private insurance. It would seem that you would be all in on the progressive plan to actually lower your premiums being the fellow that you are. Not to question the veracity of your 50% increase. Just asking for a friend.

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