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Friday, May 21, 2010

Ind. Decisions - "Infomercial pitchman spared 30 days in prison"

Yesterday's 7th Circuit opinion in the case of FTC v. Kevin Trudeau (ILB entry here) is the subject of a story in the Chicago Tribune today by Duaa Eldeib. Some quotes:

Infomercial pitchman Kevin Trudeau was spared 30 days in prison when a federal appeals court Thursday overturned a ruling in which a judge held him in criminal contempt of court.

U.S. District Judge Robert Gettleman had made the ruling after Trudeau urged supporters to communicate with the judge, and the judge's e-mail inbox was flooded with messages.

Gettleman has been presiding over a dispute between the Federal Trade Commission and Trudeau regarding Trudeau's hair- and weight-loss treatments.

The e-mails — more than 300 within about 36 hours — impeded the court's means of communication and required a threat assessment to determine if Gettleman was in danger, the judge had argued.

"Leave (K)evin and his right to free (speech) alone. I wish (k)arma on your soul this very moment," court documents quoted one e-mail to the judge as saying.

Trudeau's lawyer, Kimball Anderson, had said the e-mails were not intended to disable Gettleman's computers. He also contended that his client could not be held in contempt because Trudeau was not actually in Gettleman's presence when the e-mails piled up. Gettleman's position was argued by an appointed lawyer, Gary Feinerman, who declined to comment Thursday.

The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals opinion, written by Judge John Daniel Tinder, held that there was not a compelling reason to immediately punish Trudeau. In addition, Tinder wrote, the actions did not take place in the judge's presence, despite Gettleman's argument that he read the e-mails on the court computer. Gettleman's judicial action was ultimately "an abuse of discretion," the three-judge panel held.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on May 21, 2010 02:26 PM
Posted to Ind. (7th Cir.) Decisions