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1999 American Lawyer Media

The Legal Intelligencer

 

June 10, 1999

 

HEADLINE: Does Vulgar E-Mail to Judges Violate Prohibition on Filings?

 

BYLINE: By Tom Schoenberg, American Lawyer Media

 

BODY:

On Feb. 10, the entire Washington, D.C. judiciary received an e-mail about a

colleague.

 

The message was filled with vulgarities and aimed at Superior Court Judge

John Bayly Jr. It attacked Bayly's credibility and impartiality as a judge

and mocked his religious beliefs. The end of the message revealed the author

Jonathan Rees, a 43-year-old D.C. resident with a long history of litigation

in the city's courts. At the time, Bayly was presiding over Rees' divorce

case, which had been going on for eight years.

 

A week after the e-mail, Bayly ordered that Rees show cause why he should

not be held in contempt for violating a previous judge's 1992 order

prohibiting him additional filings in the divorce matter without judicial

approval. But late last month, in a hearing before Superior Court Judge

Michael Rankin, the U.S. attorney's office recommended against prosecuting

Rees for the contempt charge, arguing that he did not receive sufficient

warning that his actions violated then Superior Court Judge Ricardo Urbina's

1992 order.

 

Rankin agreed. "I'm inclined to accept the advice and recommendations that

this matter be discharged on the theory that due process would require that

the defendant have notice [that] specifically this type of e-mailing is

coming within the gamut of Judge Urbina's order," Rankin said at the May 27

show-cause hearing. Urbina's order stated that Rees' "failure to seek leave

of the Court before filing papers or in any way transmitting them to the

D.C. Superior Court or any clerk of any division within the court, will be

treated as contempt of court."

 

At the hearing, Rankin suggested that Rees' electronic communications with

the court may indeed have violated Urbina's order. "This is revolting stuff

here," Rankin said. "This is pretty revolting, and I don't want anything

more of it. "The judge then said he would leave it up to the U.S. attorney's

office and Rees' lawyer to draft a proposed order dismissing Bayly's

show-cause order. That order is expected to be filed this week.

 

But the battle may not be over. At the hearing, Rankin said any order will

put Rees on notice that any further e-mails to D.C. judges would be grounds

for contempt. Also at the hearing, Assistant U.S. Attorney James Boasberg

said: "This court and the U.S. attorney's office will pursue charges against

him if [Rees engages in] this kind of conduct again. "But Rees' attorney

says that prohibiting his client from communicating with the judiciary would

infringe on Rees' First Amendment right to free speech. "In my view, if an

order prevents Rees from sending e-mail correspondence not related to the

case at issue then the court is overstepping its bounds," says Ferguson

Evans, a partner at D.C.'s Garrow & Evans and Rees' court-appointed

attorney.

 

This story first appeared in Legal Times.

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1999 American Lawyer Media

The Legal Intelligencer

 

June 10, 1999

 

HEADLINE: Does Vulgar E-Mail to Judges Violate Prohibition on Filings?

 

BYLINE: By Tom Schoenberg, American Lawyer Media

 

BODY:

On Feb. 10, the entire Washington, D.C. judiciary received an e-mail about a

colleague.

 

The message was filled with vulgarities and aimed at Superior Court Judge

John Bayly Jr. It attacked Bayly's credibility and impartiality as a judge

and mocked his religious beliefs. The end of the message revealed the author

Jonathan Rees, a 43-year-old D.C. resident with a long history of litigation

in the city's courts. At the time, Bayly was presiding over Rees' divorce

case, which had been going on for eight years.

 

A week after the e-mail, Bayly ordered that Rees show cause why he should

not be held in contempt for violating a previous judge's 1992 order

prohibiting him additional filings in the divorce matter without judicial

approval. But late last month, in a hearing before Superior Court Judge

Michael Rankin, the U.S. attorney's office recommended against prosecuting

Rees for the contempt charge, arguing that he did not receive sufficient

warning that his actions violated then Superior Court Judge Ricardo Urbina's

1992 order.

 

Rankin agreed. "I'm inclined to accept the advice and recommendations that

this matter be discharged on the theory that due process would require that

the defendant have notice [that] specifically this type of e-mailing is

coming within the gamut of Judge Urbina's order," Rankin said at the May 27

show-cause hearing. Urbina's order stated that Rees' "failure to seek leave

of the Court before filing papers or in any way transmitting them to the

D.C. Superior Court or any clerk of any division within the court, will be

treated as contempt of court."

 

At the hearing, Rankin suggested that Rees' electronic communications with

the court may indeed have violated Urbina's order. "This is revolting stuff

here," Rankin said. "This is pretty revolting, and I don't want anything

more of it. "The judge then said he would leave it up to the U.S. attorney's

office and Rees' lawyer to draft a proposed order dismissing Bayly's

show-cause order. That order is expected to be filed this week.

 

But the battle may not be over. At the hearing, Rankin said any order will

put Rees on notice that any further e-mails to D.C. judges would be grounds

for contempt. Also at the hearing, Assistant U.S. Attorney James Boasberg

said: "This court and the U.S. attorney's office will pursue charges against

him if [Rees engages in] this kind of conduct again. "But Rees' attorney

says that prohibiting his client from communicating with the judiciary would

infringe on Rees' First Amendment right to free speech. "In my view, if an

order prevents Rees from sending e-mail correspondence not related to the

case at issue then the court is overstepping its bounds," says Ferguson

Evans, a partner at D.C.'s Garrow & Evans and Rees' court-appointed

attorney.

 

This story first appeared in Legal Times.

People, I think we have the wrong Rees.

 

That candiadte Rees is 51 years old (1/10/1954) according to several public records and news releases.

 

The Rees talked about here would be no more than 49 at this date in time.

 

I think the author besmirching Rees, the candidate is probably one of his rivals who is trying to fool all of us.

 

People see it for what it is worth

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