A blogger and Internet radio host was arrested by the FBI in North Bergen, N.J., on Wednesday after urging the killing of three Chicago-based federal appellate judges who earlier this month declined in a court ruling to overturn laws banning handguns in Chicago and a nearby suburb.
The blogger, Hal Turner, in a June 2 Web posting on the same day of the ruling, called the decision an "outrage" and said that the judges "deserve to be killed." The complaint charged him with threatening to assault and murder the judges in retaliation for performing their official duties.
In a second posting on June 3, Turner provided the names, work addresses, phone numbers and photos of the three judges on the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago who were on the panel that made the decision. Chief Judge Frank Easterbrook, Judge Richard Posner and Judge William Bauer were the three judges named. National Rifle Association v. City of Chicago (pdf), nos. 08-4142, 08-4243 and 08-4244. Turner said the judges "ignored" the Second Amendment's right to bear arms and disregarded U.S. Supreme Court rulings.
"We take threats to federal judges very seriously. Period," said U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald in a press release announcing the arrest of Turner and the criminal complaint filed against him (pdf) in the Northern District of Illinois.
Turner, 47, also made a reference to the 2005 murders of U.S. District Judge Joan Lefkow's husband and mother by a plaintiff whose case against doctors and a Chicago hospital over his treatment as a cancer patient she had dismissed.
"Apparently, the 7th U.S. Circuit court didn't get the hint after those killings," Turner said in his posting. "It appears another lesson is needed."
Turner's postings also included a photo of the Dirksen Federal Building in Chicago where the judges work, and included arrows pointing to "anti-truck bomb barriers" that surround the courthouse building, plus a map of the location of the building, federal prosecutors said in the complaint.
While Turner was arrested in New Jersey, the complaint was filed against him in the U.S. District Court for Northern Illinois, and he will be prosecuted in Chicago, likely necessitating the recusal of judges who work in the same building that was in the photo Turner posted.
Turner was arrested earlier this month in New Jersey after state capitol police in Connecticut obtained a warrant based on his blog postings that called for violence against two Connecticut state lawmakers and a state official, according to local news reports. He was arraigned in Hartford, Conn., Superior Court on Monday on a felony charge of inciting injury to persons.