Via SooperMexican, and eyewitness report:
This morning, I attended the hearing over a protective order sought by Brett Kimberlin against Aaron Walker in Rockville, MD. There were only a few people there.
Walker, the defendant, if you will–and I apologize for getting any terminology wrong, I don’t have a lot of experience with peace orders, as my thorough pre-adoption criminal background check shows–had to represent himself. Kimberlin had an attorney present, who issued a few objections, nearly inaudible to me.
The Judge, and I haven’t confirmed this, but I believe he was former Montgomery County Chief Justice James Vaughan–a guy who retired in ’04, and still takes the odd shift when stuff gets busy or there are vacations. In an earlier matter, Judge Vaughan mentioned he lived in the Caribbean, so pretty sure that’s the guy.
It went bad for Walker pretty quickly. If you’ve followed the matter, and I know not a lot of people have, Walker, who is an attorney, acted in an advisory capacity for another blogger who had dealings with Kimberlin. Kimberlin later accused Walker of assault; those charges were null-processed; Walker wrote about things like you’ll read on Kimberlin’s wikipedia page, as well as his own dealings with Kimberlin.
Judge Vaughan had read up on the matter, knew Kimberlin’s history of felony convictions, but clearly was technically ignorant of even basic facts about what Twitter is, in one instance point saying “He Googled you 500,000 times” through the Tubes or whatever. The Judge had identified himself, earlier, as being “of the Royal Typewriter Generation,” and at another point, when confronted with the voluminous material from both sides, asked “don’t people have jobs, who reads this stuff?”
That said, Judge Vaughan did know a lot about the kind of respect a Judge is owed. He also, again, knew all about Kimberlin, saying “even a prostitute is entitled to protection.”
And Walker pissed him off. So did Kimberlin, but Walker identified himself as a Yale-trained lawyer, albeit one who was representing himself. Kimberlin made any number of allegations–essentially, everything that was said about his side–issuing death threats, harming business interests, summoning SWAT teams to the home–was said by Kimberlin to have been done by Walker’s side.
The pair went back and forth, back and forth, with Walker getting increasingly flustered, and the Judge finally asking, “what did they tell you in Yale Law School about interrupting a judge?” And later advising Walker to sit down, grip a pencil, and whenever he was tempted to speak over the Judge (or Kimberlin, but mostly over the Judge), to instead grip the pencil.
At one point, when Walker again interrupted Kimberlin, an attorney who was “advising” Walker–i.e.,. sitting in the coutroom, but not actually at Walker’s table, signaled to the plaintiff that he ought to “zip it.” This process amused Kimberlin, obviously.
For the Judge’s faults, he really did try to let Walker make his case. When Walker was able to question Kimberlin–not about everything, but merely the facts that had occurred in the last 30 days (which is all that’s relevant in a Peace Order Hearing), it became clear that Kimberlin would unravel under any kind of competent examination. The guy’s story changed 3 times in 5 minutes. First it was that Walker had issued 14k tweets against him–which the Judge assumed were to Kimberlin’s account, and by Walker. Then it was 54 pages of 10 tweets each actually by Walker. Then it was 15k tweets about Muslims or something.
Walker was also able to introduce for the record–again, Peace Order, it’s only about the last 30 days–Kimberlin’s convictions for bombings from I guess 1980, his revocation of parole in 1998, and even something where Kimberlin was convicted of perjury in 1973… ish. Then, when it came to actual convictions, there was one moment when Kimberlin came up with a defense about the judge being convicted of bribery, so he didn’t feel that those particular verdicts should be discussed, but that turned out to be an unrelated civil matter, and Judge Vaughan then insisted that the convictions remained in the record.
But, Walker didn’t press the credibility of Kimberlin enough. He was too easily sidetracked by the latter’s machinations, and every time Walker veered off, the Judge got madder.
Last portion of the trial, once the Judge decided he’d heard enough, came when Walker was asked, repeatedly, when does this all end? Judge cited his own upbringing in Brooklyn, where when guys had disagreements like these two did, somebody’d get picked up in a truck and they’d go have it out near the East River or words to that effect.
Walker at this point stated what he wanted was for Kimberlin to be tried by the State’s Attorney for perjury related to that earlier assault thing. Judge kept pressing Walker on this, stating that it’s entirely the Government’s business to decide who to punish (Libertarians might disagree), asking if the uproar could end, bringing up the concept of “Too Much Justice,” asking if Walker was aware of this–the latter indicated he was. Then the Judge and Walker swapped precedents for a little while, with the Judge… unimpressed.
Just guessing, but I’m betting that Walker is not a trial attorney. Courtroom Rule #1 is The Judge is God. You do not interrupt or argue with a judge. They are petty tyrants ruling their courtrooms with an iron fist.
Another rule for lawyers is “When you are outside your specialty, you are not a lawyer.” Just because your uncle Bob is a personal injury attorney doesn’t mean he is qualified represent you in a divorce.
Lots of people make the mistake of thinking they don’t need a lawyer. They think that since they are innocent they can just go into court and tell the judge their side of the story and everything will be okay. Lawyers have a term for people like that: “inmates”.
That said, I can think of several explanations for what happened to Mr. Walker today:
1. He was arrested for contempt of court for interrupting the judge.
2. He was arrested on a preexisting warrant for allegedly assaulting Kimberlin.
3. He was arrested for contempt for violating the temporary restraining order.
If he was arrested on a warrant of for some criminal offense, I would expect him to have posted bail by now. On the other hand, contempt of court is not a bailable offense. He would still be allowed to make phone calls however.
I am awaiting more information.
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