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United States v. White

United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
698 F.3d 1005 (2012)


Facts

The federal government (plaintiff) prosecuted William White (defendant), the editor of the white-supremacist "Overthrow" website, for soliciting a violent federal crime, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 373. Between 2005 and 2008, White posted a number of Overthrow messages in which he praised and advocated violence against blacks, Jews, gays, and the judge and jurors who convicted white supremacist Matthew Hale for violating § 373. One of White's postings applauded the murder of the Hale trial judge's family members. In September 2008, White posted the name, address, and phone numbers of "Juror A," whom he identified as the Hale jury's gay, Jewish foreman. The federal district court judge ruled that White's September 2008 posting was constitutionally protected free speech and dismissed the indictment. The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals reversed and remanded White's case for trial. The trial evidence established that the September 2008 posting motivated Overthrow users to send Juror A harassing, but not threatening, emails. There was conflicting testimony as to the accessibility of White's other Overthrow postings. Two white supremacists testified that White never instructed them to commit criminal acts, and expressed concern that his postings might incite violence, although one of them said he knew Overthrow users who looked to the site for such instructions. The jury convicted White, but the judge granted White's motion for a judgment of acquittal. The judge ruled that the government failed to meet § 373's requirement for circumstantial evidence that is "strongly corroborative" of the defendant's intent to solicit violence. The government appealed to the Seventh Circuit.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Per curiam)

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