The Brett Kimberlin Saga:

Follow this link to my BLOCKBUSTER STORY of how Brett Kimberlin, a convicted terrorist and perjurer, attempted to frame me for a crime, and then got me arrested for blogging when I exposed that misconduct to the world. That sounds like an incredible claim, but I provide primary documents and video evidence proving that he did this. And if you are moved by this story to provide a little help to myself and other victims of Mr. Kimberlin’s intimidation, such as Robert Stacy McCain, you can donate at the PayPal buttons on the right. And I thank everyone who has done so, and will do so.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

The Crime That May Have Been Committed During the George Zimmerman Trial (Update: Gatorlanche!)

Update: Thanks to the Daily Gator for the linkage.

Anyone wanting to follow all the ins and outs of the Zimmerman case really should be reading Legal Insurrection.  I will not follow every twist and turn, but I found this bit amusing.

Today they offered George Zimmerman’s college transcripts and his educational experience, all in an effort to suggest that because Zimmerman knew the law, he knew how to lie and get away with murder... or something.  It is often said that ignorance of the law is no excuse for breaking it, but apparently Florida prosecutors actually prefer you to be ignorant of the law.  Or something.

I am prepared to be wrong, but I wrote this over a year ago, and nothing I have seen or heard has changed my view:

I have looked at the news reports and at this point in time, if you cut through all the clutter one simple truth emerges: at the crucial moment where the law decides whether George Zimmerman committed unlawful murder or justifiable homicide under the principle of self-defense, there is only one living witness: George Zimmerman.

Even if you prove George Zimmerman is a dirty liar, that isn’t enough.  The state still has to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he did not act in self-defense.  The state has to prove what actually did happen at that moment.  And unless the state has some surprising evidence I had heard nothing about, I don’t see how they possibly could get to conviction.

Anyway, so we heard from two of Zimmerman’s former professors.  One was an African-American professor who seemed friendly to Zimmerman in the courtroom that day, suggesting he might not buy into the theory that this was a racially-motivated murder.  And the second was being beamed in on Skype video.  Some courts do this, allowing defendants living very far away to testify in court without the expense of travel.  The problem was the Skype dial in apparently got out to the public somehow:

While a former college professor of George Zimmerman's was testifying via Skype in his televised second-degree murder trial, dozens of users tried to interrupt the questioning by incessantly calling the witness.
As the calls persisted in court Wednesday and it became obvious that they were not accidents, defense attorney Mark O'Mara told professor Scott Pleasants: "There's now a really good chance that we're being toyed with, just so you know."

The trolling was successful — the frustrated judge demanded that attorneys call a different number and ditch the Skype session. Local news station WESH has video of the fiasco.

4chan might have been the source of the disruption. The Daily Dot reports that users of the /b/ imageboard tracked down the witness' Skype number online, although some speculate that Reddit could have also driven Skype users to call.

You can watch a great deal of the fiasco, here:

Okay, I admit when I heard of this, I did a little of this...

...and a little laughing, too.  But something else occurred to me: this might also be illegal, too.

I checked the Florida Statutes first for obstruction of justice and there didn’t see an obviously applicable statute.  And then I check their computer crimes statute, Fla. Stat. §815.06, which says:

815.06 Offenses against computer users.—

(1)        Whoever willfully, knowingly, and without authorization:

(a)        Accesses or causes to be accessed any computer, computer system, or computer network;

(b)        Disrupts or denies or causes the denial of computer system services to an authorized user of such computer system services, which, in whole or part, is owned by, under contract to, or operated for, on behalf of, or in conjunction with another;

(c)        Destroys, takes, injures, or damages equipment or supplies used or intended to be used in a computer, computer system, or computer network;

(d)       Destroys, injures, or damages any computer, computer system, or computer network; or

(e)        Introduces any computer contaminant into any computer, computer system, or computer network,

commits an offense against computer users.

(2)        (a)       Except as provided in paragraphs (b) and (c), whoever violates subsection (1) commits a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.

(b)        Whoever violates subsection (1) and:

1.         Damages a computer, computer equipment, computer supplies, a computer system, or a computer network, and the monetary damage or loss incurred as a result of the violation is $5,000 or greater;

2.         Commits the offense for the purpose of devising or executing any scheme or artifice to defraud or obtain property; or

3.         Interrupts or impairs a governmental operation or public communication, transportation, or supply of water, gas, or other public service,

commits a felony of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.

(c) Whoever violates subsection (1) and the violation endangers human life commits a felony of the first degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.

(3)        Whoever willfully, knowingly, and without authorization modifies equipment or supplies used or intended to be used in a computer, computer system, or computer network commits a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.

Without a deep investigation into the law, it appears that this the spammers were “willfully, knowingly, and without authorization... [d]isrupt[ing]... computer system services to an authorized user of such computer system services, which, in whole or part, is owned by, under contract to, or operated for, on behalf of, or in conjunction with another” and further such action had the result of “[i]nterrupt[ing] or impair[ing] a governmental operation or public communication.”

First, it is without authorization.  The terms of service for Skype prohibits users from “send[ing] unsolicited communications (also referred to as “SPAM”, “SPIM” or “SPIT”).”  Second it was plainly disrupting, if not denying entirely, the ability of this witness to use Skype that day.  Third, it plainly interrupted or impairs a governmental operation.  So, on its face it seems to fit.

I suspect that the prosecutors in this case will simply let it slide, but it is an illustration of one of the most basic pieces of advice I give. It is very rare for something to be wrong, but legal.  If it is wrong, it is usually safe to assume it is illegal, somehow, too.  Perhaps this is the product of the over-criminalization of conduct that Glenn Reynolds rightfully complains about, but trying to do wrong and hoping it is technically legal is never a wise course of action.

(And please note that I am not saying that only things that are wrong are illegal.  There are many things that are illegal that are only morally wrong because they are illegal.  For instance, it might not be immoral not to stop at a particular stop sign, but it will be illegal.)

And yes what was done here was immoral.  The state and the defendant equally have a right to a fair trial, and this disruption impaired that.  That is immoral.  And, sadly, predictable, which is why I laughed.



I have accused some people, particularly Brett Kimberlin, of reprehensible conduct.  In some cases, the conduct is even criminal.  In all cases, the only justice I want is through the appropriate legal process—such as the criminal justice system.  I do not want to see vigilante violence against any person or any threat of such violence.  This kind of conduct is not only morally wrong, but it is counter-productive.

In the particular case of Brett Kimberlin, I do not want you to even contact him.  Do not call him.  Do not write him a letter.  Do not write him an email.  Do not text-message him.  Do not engage in any kind of directed communication.  I say this in part because under Maryland law, that can quickly become harassment and I don’t want that to happen to him.

And for that matter, don’t go on his property.  Don’t sneak around and try to photograph him.  Frankly try not to even be within his field of vision.  Your behavior could quickly cross the line into harassment in that way too (not to mention trespass and other concerns).

And do not contact his organizations, either.  And most of all, leave his family alone.

The only exception to all that is that if you are reporting on this, there is of course nothing wrong with contacting him for things like his official response to any stories you might report.  And even then if he tells you to stop contacting him, obey that request.  That this is a key element in making out a harassment claim under Maryland law—that a person asks you to stop and you refuse.

And let me say something else.  In my heart of hearts, I don’t believe that any person supporting me has done any of the above.  But if any of you have, stop it, and if you haven’t don’t start.


  1. You're mistaken about the burden of proof being on the state in regard's to Zimmerman's claim of self-defense.

    Self-defense is an affirmative defense, which shifts the burden of proof onto the defendant.

    On the charge of 2nd degree murder, however, this is basically moot; realistically Zimmerman cannot have both a depraved mind/ill will required for that charge and be acting in self defense. Effectively, a jury can find against the charge of 2nd even without coming to a conclusion on self defense or even concluding against Zimmerman's self defense.

    However, on the lesser included charge of manslaughter, self-defense is Zimmerman's only defense, since he obviously has admitted to inflicting great bodily injury resulting in death. So if Zimmerman escapes the 2nd degree murder charge, he still has the burden to prove he acted in self-defense. The jury MUST believe him, since he is the only witness, which is contra what you argued.

  2. Very interesting analysis. I have not been following this trial that closely so your post really adds some perspective and insight. Thanks for your post.

  3. The Skype TOS doesn't seem to define what it means by SPAM, SPIT, etc, as used in 6.3(c). The general meaning of the terms are the bulk sending of unsolicited, generally commercial, messages to a large number of recipients. That does not apply in this case.

    6.3(e), however, bars using it "to cause or intend to cause embarrassment..., or to harass..., any third party". That might stick.

    As for the Florida computer crimes statute, I'm not sure §815.06(1)(b) applies either. Sure, the continual incoming calls and messages were annoying, but it was the result of how the O'Mara had configured Skype.

    He had the option to turn notifications off, to only accept calls and messages from known users, etc. By failing to do so, O'Mara authorized anyone to IM or call him.

    You might be able to get them under §815.06(1)(a), assuming that a terms of service violation automatically turns you into an unauthorized user. But I honestly don't hope you think that.

    As Kozinski said in US v. Nosal; "...Consider the numerous dating websites whose terms of use prohibit inaccurate or misleading information... describing yourself as “tall, dark and handsome,” when you’re actually short and homely, will earn you a handsome orange jumpsuit."