DENVER – In a rare move, the Denver District Attorney’s office has filed charges of retaliation against a judge and harassment against a local man.
Eric Brandt is a well-known anti-government activist. He has made general statements calling for the random shooting of judges and police officers in the past, but this time he is accused of threatening a specific judge.
Brandt was arrested in Lakewood on Sunday and made his initial appearance in Denver court Tuesday morning. According to the arrest affidavit, Brandt called the judge's courtroom after two members of Occupy Denver were arrested at the courthouse earlier that day.
The audio of the recorded telephone conversation with the judge’s clerk: “I wanted to share my thoughts and prayers for Judge Rudolph. It is my thought Judge Rudolph should be violently murdered and have his brains blown through his head. It`s my prayers that someone actually does it. Would you be sure to share that thought and prayer with the judge?”
The affidavit said “the message caused (---redacted----) alarm for his personal safety and that of his family.” He said he felt harassed by the comments and asked for extra patrols around his house.
Denver attorney Steve Zansberg is an expert on the first amendment. He says a jury will have to decide if this is protected speech or a true threat, which is not protected by the first amendment.
Zansberg said, “The first amendment protects speech even that is caustic and offensive and vile, so as long as it doesn`t fall within categories courts interpreting the first amendment have deemed to be outside the protection of that.” He went on to say, “I’m very comfortable saying Mr. Brandt has a history of going as far up to the line without crossing it as possible. The question now is has this latest communication now crossed that line?”
Brandt is being held on a $10,000 bond, facing charges of retaliation against a judge, a class four felony and harassment, a class three misdemeanor.