According to the Indiana Lawyer, A Dearborn County man who posted numerous articles online about a Superior judge who presided over his divorce alleging the judge was corrupt and a child abuser had his conviction of intimidation related to the conduct upheld by the Court of Appeals Thursday. But the judges found intimidation convictions relating to a psychologist who performed the custody evaluation and the judge’s wife could not stand.
Daniel and Melissa Brewington were going through divorce proceedings before Dearborn Superior Judge Carl Taul. Dearborn Superior Judge James Humphrey later took over the case. Dr. Edward Connor was assigned to perform the custody evaluation of the children. He determined that Melissa Brewington should be the sole custodian and primary residential parent with Daniel Brewington receiving visitation because the couple couldn’t communicate effectively.
Daniel Brewington objected to the report. Instead of allowing Connor to meet with him again, he began sending a torrent of abusive letters to Connor to release his entire file to him, withdraw from the case, and withdraw the evaluation. After Humphrey took over the case and entered a final order granting sole legal and physical custody to Melissa Brewington, Daniel Brewington began posting on websites claims that Humphrey was a child abuser and corrupt. He also posted online the name of Humphrey’s wife, Heidi, and their home address and told people to send letters about his case to that address. He did not say that Heidi Humphrey, who previously was an advisor on the Supreme Court’s Judicial Ethics and Professional Committee, is James Humphrey’s wife.
Daniel Brewington was indicted on six charges and found guilty of five at trial: Class A misdemeanors intimidation relating to Connor and Heidi Humphrey ; Class D felony intimidation relating to James Humphrey; Class D felony attempted obstruction of justice relating to Connor; and one count of Class D felony perjury for falsely stating during grand jury proceedings that he didn’t know Heidi Humphrey was the judge’s wife. He received a five-year aggregate sentence.
Daniel Brewington appealed on several grounds, including double jeopardy and whether the evidence can sustain his convictions. The Court of Appeals concluded that double jeopardy required the intimidation conviction relating to Connor to be reversed and vacated because the jury could have relied on the same evidence to convict Daniel Brewington of intimidation and attempted obstruction of justice convictions. The judges reversed his conviction relating to the judge’s wife, finding his posting of her address on the Internet and inviting the public to send comments about his divorce case didn’t constitute a threat as defined by statute.
They upheld the conviction relating to James Humphrey, rejecting Daniel Brewington’s argument civil defamation law principles must be incorporated into Indiana Code 35-42-2-1(c)(6). The judges found the state was not required to provide evidence that his public statements about James Humphrey were knowingly false.
The Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court in all other respects.