Discuss Detroit DISCUSS DETROIT! Religious Groups, Law Professors, Free Speech Advocates Join ACLU-MI in Support of Preacher Previous Next
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Acluofmichigan
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Username: Acluofmichigan

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Registered: 03-2009
Posted on Wednesday, March 18, 2009 - 2:43 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

A diverse group of religious organizations, law professors and free speech advocates submitted three friend-of-the-court briefs today condemning the imprisonment of a Benton Harbor minister sentenced to 3-10 years for writing an article criticizing a judge. Rev. Edward Pinkney, represented by the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan, paraphrased the Bible in his article and predicted what God might do to the judge who presided over his case. For more information visit our website ACLU of Michigan

"We are thrilled with the overwhelming support from the religious community, constitutional scholars and free speech organizations," said Michael J. Steinberg, ACLU of Michigan Legal Director. "The groups persuasively argue for the fundamental American principle that a preacher cannot be thrown in prison for his religious speech even if some find it offensive."

The three friend-of-the-court briefs were filed in the Michigan Court of Appeals by more than a dozen national and local faith-based organizations; a group of Michigan law professors who teach and research in the area of First Amendment protections, civil rights, criminal law, and constitutional law; and the Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression.

Rev. Pinkney is an associate pastor at the Hopewell Baptist Church and is the founder of the Black Autonomy Network Community Organization (BANCO). He has long been an outspoken community activist and advocate, frequently denouncing injustice and racial inequality in Benton Harbor, its local government, and the Berrien County criminal justice system in particular.

In 2007, Rev. Pinkney was sentenced to probation for violating Michigan election law. However, his probation was revoked and he was resentenced to 3-10 years in prison solely because of an article he wrote for a small Chicago newspaper. Quoting a passage from the Bible, Rev. Pinkney predicted that God would punish the judge unless he "hearken[ed] unto the voice of the Lord thy God to observe [and] to do all that is right." Rev. Pinkney also expressed his opinion in the article that the judge was racist, dumb, and corrupt.

(Message edited by ACLUofMichigan on March 18, 2009)
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Cloud_wall
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Username: Cloud_wall

Post Number: 40
Registered: 02-2009
Posted on Wednesday, March 18, 2009 - 4:06 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Quote:

However, his probation was revoked and he was resentenced to 3-10 years in prison solely because of an article he wrote for a small Chicago newspaper.

Care to explain that a little more?
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Belleislerunner
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Username: Belleislerunner

Post Number: 208
Registered: 12-2003
Posted on Wednesday, March 18, 2009 - 4:59 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Sounds like the poor Rev is crying foul for violating the terms of his probation. What part of "do not use threatening lanuage" did he not understand? No pity... Just a bad publicity stunt...

In March 2007, Reverend Edward Pinkney was found guilty on three felony charges of "improper possession of absentee ballots, one felony count of influencing voters while they were voting, and a misdemeanor charge of influencing voters with money," according to Michigan Citizen. At his sentencing two months later, Judge Butzbaugh suspended the actual jail time, and instead ordered a tether.

As part of his probation, Pinkney was to "refrain from political campaigning, to avoid threatening and intimating behavior, to not use a cell phone and to not associate with any person known to have a criminal conviction."

Seven months later, on December 21, 2007, Butzbaugh issued a warrant for Pinkney's arrest because Pinkney violated the terms of his probation by writing in The People's Tribune, "We must fight for justice for all any time you have a judge like Alfred Butzbaugh, who is a racist," and further, "by the dumb judge and prosecutor....I support the constitution of the United States and the State of Michigan; we are still waiting on this racist corrupt judge to do the same." The judge ordered Pinkney to serve a jail term that had been a part of his original sentencing. According to Michigan Citizen, Pinkney wrote a questionably threatening letter to the judge from Berrien County jail quoting Deuteronomy 28:14-22--"The passage recites the evils God will measure out to those in high places and who have great responsibility if they mistreat the people they are chosen to serve." After Judge Butzbaugh's recusal, another judge sentenced Pinkney to three to 10 years.

http://judgepedia.org/index.ph p/Alfred_Butzbaugh
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Bobl
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Username: Bobl

Post Number: 653
Registered: 07-2008
Posted on Wednesday, March 18, 2009 - 7:18 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

I would ask that the Reverend and the ACLU work toward the goal of separation of church and state. The state should not be forced to allow the church to avoid taxes, and should not be prohibited from requiring reasonable probation terms when laws are broken by church employees.

It is bothersome when churches, who offer dogma rather than discussion, hide behind the constitutional right to free speech, then avoid paying taxes.
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Cloud_wall
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Username: Cloud_wall

Post Number: 42
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Posted on Wednesday, March 18, 2009 - 7:28 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

I don't see anything remotely threatening in what Belleislerunner posted from the pastor's column. Unless quoting Deuteronomy 28:14 counts - can a minister, who might claim to speak for God, be culpable for God's implied threats in scripture if the minister quotes that scripture?

It seems a stronger argument would be that he was campaigning against the judge. That also seems tenuous unless there is a campaign coming up.

I guess the bigger issue is the extent to which judges can limit speech in probation terms. I have no idea what the answer to that is.

(Message edited by Cloud_wall on March 18, 2009)
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Detroitej72
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Username: Detroitej72

Post Number: 1340
Registered: 05-2006
Posted on Wednesday, March 18, 2009 - 7:31 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Sounds like someone who intentionally pushed the envelope, got caught, and is now crying racism. I'm sure God is more upset with the pastor for speaking on his behalf,(God's) and calling racism when that count is questionable.
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Detroitej72
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Username: Detroitej72

Post Number: 1341
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Posted on Wednesday, March 18, 2009 - 7:32 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Sounds like someone who intentionally pushed the envelope, got caught, and is now crying racism. I'm sure God is more upset with the pastor for speaking on his behalf,(God's) and calling racism when that charge is questionable.
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Belleislerunner
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Username: Belleislerunner

Post Number: 209
Registered: 12-2003
Posted on Wednesday, March 18, 2009 - 8:28 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

This entire case has nothing to do with the Bible. You can throw that out. That's just spun to stir up the pot.

Term of Probation - ....As part of his probation, Pinkney was to "refrain from political campaigning...

Violation of Probation - Writing in a newspaper..."I support the constitution of the United States and the State of Michigan; we are still waiting on this... corrupt judge to do the same."

Maybe he can sing psalms in prison awaiting his angelic deliverance...
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Cloud_wall
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Username: Cloud_wall

Post Number: 44
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Posted on Wednesday, March 18, 2009 - 11:05 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Yeah, that Deuteronomy question was not serious. Just that God's warning for evildoers in power was the only thing I saw that could be threatening.

You earlier explained his probation violation this way:

"What part of "do not use threatening lanuage" [sic] did he not understand?"

Also, it's hard to accept that any political language whatsoever qualifies as "campaigning." Hopefully there is an actual campaign involved in which the pastor's words could theoretically have an impact.
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Diehard
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Username: Diehard

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Posted on Thursday, March 19, 2009 - 12:42 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Sounds really murky... how can a judge take away someone's 1st Amendment rights as part of probation? And quoting a Bible passage hardly counts as "threatening" unless he offered to mete out God's punishment himself.
I'm with the ACLU here, unless there's something else they're leaving out.
On a side note, doesn't this poke a few holes in the claims that the ACLU is anti-Christian?
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Ferntruth
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Username: Ferntruth

Post Number: 796
Registered: 11-2006
Posted on Thursday, March 19, 2009 - 12:47 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

"On a side note, doesn't this poke a few holes in the claims that the ACLU is anti-Christian?"

It should, but it won't. Most Xians love to bash the ACLU...until THEY need them.
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Retroit
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Username: Retroit

Post Number: 1007
Registered: 04-2008
Posted on Thursday, March 19, 2009 - 4:30 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Trouble-makers who invoke the LORD in their inflammatory rhetoric should not be supported simply because they know how to play The Religion Card (cousin of The Race Card). Shame on the "religious groups" for supporting criminal, or at the very least, ungodly activities. As for the ACLU, it doesn't surprise me!

I support the judge. If anything, he should not have been so lenient in sentencing the "Rev." to probation.
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Cloud_wall
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Username: Cloud_wall

Post Number: 45
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Posted on Thursday, March 19, 2009 - 4:38 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Retroit, fine, you hate Christians AND the ACLU. Remarkable. But what is the crime exactly? Or even the ungodliness, for that matter?
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Retroit
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Username: Retroit

Post Number: 1013
Registered: 04-2008
Posted on Thursday, March 19, 2009 - 7:58 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

I don't hate anyone.

The crime was: "Reverend Edward Pinkney was found guilty on three felony charges of improper possession of absentee ballots, one felony count of influencing voters while they were voting, and a misdemeanor charge of influencing voters with money,..."

The ungodliness was: "Pinkney violated the terms of his probation by writing in The People's Tribune, 'We must fight for justice for all any time you have a judge like Alfred Butzbaugh, who is a racist,' and further, 'by the dumb judge and prosecutor....I support the constitution of the United States and the State of Michigan; we are still waiting on this racist corrupt judge to do the same.'...Pinkney wrote a questionably threatening letter to the judge from Berrien County jail quoting Deuteronomy 28:14-22--'The passage recites the evils God will measure out to those in high places and who have great responsibility if they mistreat the people they are chosen to serve.'

Godly people should not use the LORD to gain sympathy for the wrongs they have committed. The "Rev." has condemned his very self, for he is in a high place as a Reverend and has mistreated a person that he has chosen to serve, namely another human being, the judge. "Do not put the LORD, thy God, to the test."
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Cloud_wall
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Username: Cloud_wall

Post Number: 47
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Posted on Friday, March 20, 2009 - 8:58 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Sorry about the hate comment. It was stupid.

So you agree there was nothing criminal about whatever acts allegedly violated his probation. Namely, saying things that hurt the judge's feelings.
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Retroit
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Username: Retroit

Post Number: 1029
Registered: 04-2008
Posted on Friday, March 20, 2009 - 1:43 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Forgiven.

I'm not sure how "criminal" his alleged actions were, but threatening a judge that has granted leniency is not wise. Nor is Probation Violation or Contempt of Court.

If the "religious groups" are defending this man simply because he is a "Reverend" or because he can quote a passage from the bible, that was a stupid decision.

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