A month ago, I reported on an egregious sentence that evoked Islamic law (sharia). An infidel by the name of Ilya Sobolevskiy was prosecuted by Obama's Department of Justice and sent to jail for a year for saying in an email that he would “do WHATEVER it takes to eradicate Islam.” So what? A year in prison? Another 12 months of supervised release and a $3,000 fine.
Enemy combatants against the US get more leniency.
I have been threatened many times, many times received death threats, yet no one is prosecuted or sentence to a minute of jail time. Real threats.
Concerned court observer on scene reportage:
I was at the hearings and what i got out it was the judge abusing his power of discretion. I don't mean to approve threatening emails, which he did not deny sending, but that the punishment exceeded the crime. I know the prosecutor proposed--and was content with--probation w/ an electronic monitoring bracelet. The judge didn't take to it and insisted on the sentence you heard about.
The court records showed multiple emails from defendant, but all except possibly one or two were questionable.
The rest were questioning, probing about CIMIC's alliance with CAIR, islamic doctrine, etc.. They were uncomfortably, probably rude, but within protected speech. The judge took the prior email record between the defendant and CIMIC, and used them as a basis for an "escalation" argument to justify his sentence. The salient point is that even the prosecutor was content with a probationary sentence. The judge did not "go somewhere in the middle" between prosecution and defense, as one might expect. He aimed for the max. I should note that two individuals from CIMIC were there in court. One of them, I believe, was a news/media person.
We have seen a traitorous Department of Justice refuse to prosecute the Black Panther party for voter harassment and intimidation with weapons on Election day. Senior DoJ lawyers resigned in protest (more here).
The Department of Justice sponsored a booth at the Muslim Brotherhood front ISNA (Islamic Society of North America) convention underwritten by, among others, the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas-linked CAIR.
Obama's Department of Justice sued a New Jersey county, alleging that it refused to accommodate a Muslim employee's khimar, a religious head covering. The suit seeks monetary damages and also seeks to require Essex County to adopt a policy that accommodates the religious observances and practices of employees.
Further, Obama's Department of Justice dropped the "charges" against the Muslims who blew up the USS Cole.
Obama's Department of Justice is still trying to bring the 911 mastermind to New York City for a civilian trial. And these examples are just the tip of the iceberg. The prosecution of Sobolevskiy is by far the worst, and Judge David G. Bernthal, referring to the defendant’s crime as “an act of terror,” is in need of immediate removal. Nuts.
I do not advocate for violence or ugly email missives, but a year in jail for them? This is something altogether different. The Department of Justice is enforcing sharia and abandoning rule of law.
Here's the latest. I am not sure what we can do, but we cannot stand by. This, from a concerned court observer.
The following article outlines how the US justice system abused its power to give an unreasonably harsh sentence for an act that was barely, if at all, a crime. They ruined a young man’s life with a 12-month prison sentence, another 12 months of supervised release and a fine. All this for actions that are questionable in criminality. Even if the defendant’s action was a violation of the law, the list of mitigating factors (see bullet list in part 2) in favor of a lighter sentence is substantial.
In early 2008, the defendant visited CIMIC—an Islamic center in Champaign, IL. What he saw prompted him to research the religion. Apparently, the defendant concluded that Islam was substantially intolerant, violent, and generally unpleasant. He continued to visit the group’s sermons out of curiosity. He tried to engage CIMIC’s leader(s) in a legitimate, if uncomfortable, debate that centered on Islam’s doctrinal intolerance. He saw it odd that CIMIC preached and followed an aggressive and exclusivist religion while simultaneously advocating for “civil rights” and “tolerance” in the outside community. The defendant was concerned to the point of contacting the local FBI office about what he thought was CIMIC’s jihadist sympathies.
I’d like to emphasize this:
The defendant took the initiative to contact law enforcement about the Islamic group’s apparent jihadist sympathies.
In spring of 2008, the defendant, against his better judgment, fired off some nasty emails. For that, he got the maximum penalty: 12 months incarceration, a fine, and 12 months of supervised release.
The defendant was unjustly punished out of proportion to the crime (if it was a crime at all). The government twisted the law to “make an example” out of someone who did not deserve it. I was present at the hearings, so I can attest to what happened during the proceedings.
1. The Charge
Use or attempt to use force was not proven. This is a central point since the statute focuses on “intentional obstruction.” There was no attempt to obstruct by force. There were no arguments or evidence that the defendant intended or threatened any forceful action.
There was no testimony or evidence that the Islamic center was closed as a result of the email. Nobody was ever physically obstructed. The plea and sentencing hearings failed to show any temporary or lasting harm to CIMIC or its members over the 2.5 years this investigation has gone on.
The prosecutor injected opinion and bias into a “statements of facts” in her argument. It was an absurdity to accuse the defendant of “terrorism” as the prosecutor and the judge proceeded to do. In fact, it was precisely the defendant’s awareness of Islam’s undeniable connection to jihadi terrorism that prompted the defendant to act in good intent, if admittedly poor manners.
The defendant was not given a chance to respond to the prosecutor’s creative extrapolations of harmful intent and general character smearing. I feel that the defendant should have had the last word in this hearing.
2. Judge Bernthal’s Conduct
Bernthal ignored mitigating factors that would seem to lessen the defendant’s sentence. These include:
• That this was a first-time offense. Maximum penalties are typically imposed on unrepentant repeat offenders.
• The defendant’s cooperation with investigating agents.
• The fact that the defendant was released with no arrest, detention or travel restrictions for over 2.5 years.
• The defendant’s productive employment, volunteering record, and positive professional/personal character references before and after the incident.
• The defendant’s acceptance of responsibility and explicit apology in all court appearances.
• The fact that the defendant contacted law enforcement with his legitimate concern about extremist sympathies by CIMIC members. The defendant saw questionable sermons and informed the authorities accordingly.
The judge twisted statements that were political, but within domain of protected speech. The defendant was not judged by any concrete actions, but by his views and beliefs. Bernthal’s decision was not based on any consideration of the defendant’s history, character or cooperation in the case. This makes a mockery of “justice” or “fair judgment.”
The presiding judge took a political statement (“do whatever it takes”) and, despite no evidence of force or intent to use force, gave the maximum punishment. Absurdly, Judge Bernthal equated emailed politically-incorrect statements and opinions to “acts of terror.”
Whatever his thoughts and motives in setting an unreasonably harsh sentence, Judge Bernthal’s conduct casts serious doubt on his capacity to carry out his job responsibilities.
3. Concluding thoughts
People like Wafa Sultan, Robert Spencer and many others have an explicitly bad opinion of Islam. Such perspectives are clearly “discriminatory” against a particular faith. They openly speak, and write about, the evils of Islam in no uncertain terms. They are not persecuted; in fact, they often are awarded for their “defense of freedom.” Moreso, many activists of all stripes regularly receive threats far harsher than what the defendant said. For example, Robert Spencer regularly receives death threats that he publishes on his website, jihadwatch.com. To my knowledge, few if any of those threats by Muslims are investigated or prosecuted.
The US justice system is often unfair and political. It has little credibility, and the “US v Sobolevsky” case is another unfortunate testament to this fact.
The defendant is “guilty” of bad word choice. Even if this is a crime, it is not one that rationally deserves the maximum sentence.
In this case, Judge Bernthal went against the core spirit and purpose of discretion allowed to judges. I shudder to think of future defendants facing Bernthal’s draconian “reasonable judgment.” Yes, the sentence was technically within the law. Nevertheless, “the law” needs an ethical foundation and a constant reminder that the punishment should match, not exceed, the severity of the crime.
To allow Bernthal this blatant abuse of power, excused by technicalities, puts a serious dent in the credibility of the US justice system. Judge Bernthal should be removed from the bench for his malicious abuse of sentencing discretion.