Yesterday Turtleboy Daily News was cited and referenced in Reason Magazine after they reported on the ongoing free speech battle first reported on TB Daily News, in which a man named Joao Depina was being charged with witness intimidation for heckling then Suffolk County District Attorney Rachael Rollins at a live press conference.
On Wednesday morning, Joao DePina will walk into a Massachusetts courthouse to learn whether he could face the possibility of spending a decade behind bars. His alleged crime? Heckling a district attorney from afar during a live press conference. DePina repeatedly interrupted then-Suffolk County D.A. Rachael Rollins during a November press conference to criticize Rollins’ professional and personal behavior. His shouts were picked up on local news broadcasts, and Rollins paused on several occasions to ask DePina to stop interrupting her attempt to give an update on two cops who had been shot earlier that day. DePina also livestreamed his tirade, during which he criticized Rollins’ nomination to be a U.S. attorney (she was confirmed to the post in December, becoming the first black woman to be U.S. attorney for Massachusetts).
This video will never stop being hilarious:
I can't really say in words how corrupt this is. The DA of Suffolk County filed witness intimidation charges against a private citizen for heckling and criticizing her for 10 minutes during a televised press conference. Biden nominated her to be US Attorney. https://t.co/NE49QEzf3Y
— AidanKearneyTB (@DoctorTurtleboy) November 19, 2021
But what’s not hilarious is the most powerful law enforcement official in the state using the powers of her office to intimidate a powerless citizen into silence because she doesn’t like being criticized by him in public. The First Amendment literally exists for Depina to do what he did in that video.
Attorney Marc Randazza, who has defended the First Amendment in a number of high profile cases (including defending me against a crackhead who claimed I was going to kidnap his son and make him a transgender baby), contacted me and said he wanted to defend Depina. Rather than backing down Rollins former office doubled down and claimed that Depina couldn’t heckle Rollins because he has other pending court cases in Suffolk District Court.
“This is the most grossly unconstitutional thing I have seen in my entire career,” Marc Randazza, a free speech attorney who is representing DePina, tells Reason. “If the First Amendment means anything, Joao walks free.”
In court documents, Randazza describes DePina’s arrest and subsequent charges as “censorious and unconstitutional,” and asks for the charge to be dropped. A hearing was held in March on the motion to dismiss the charge, and District Judge Carol Ann Fraser is due to announce her decision on that matter Wednesday. If she rules against DePina, the case will proceed to trial.
Meanwhile, prosecutors alleged in court documents that DePina ran afoul of Massachusetts law by criticizing Rollins at the same time that he was the defendant in “three separate and open cases pending in District Court which were being prosecuted by the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office,” which Rollins ran at the time. His tirade was an attempt to influence her handling of those cases, prosecutors argue, making his speech “neither lawful nor protected.”
But that argument seems to ignore the substance of DePina’s November tirade aimed at Rollins. Though he veered from political to personal attacks and back again on several occasions, DePina never referenced the legal proceedings and never threatened Rollins.
“Mr. DePina made no threats. Mr. DePina engaged in no form of harassment, nor anything that could possibly be construed as intimidation of someone connected to a pending criminal proceeding,” Randazza argues in court documents. “Rather, Mr. DePina exercised his right to criticize a District Attorney for abusing her power, opportunistically seeking higher office without caring for the people of Boston, and not taking adequate care of Boston police officers.” The case, he argues, is Rollins’ attempt to “abusively use the power of the state to swat down a political opponent.”
As Reason’s Billy Binion noted recently in connection to another case where someone was arrested for criticizing law enforcement, the Supreme Court has held that the First Amendment protects “the freedom of individuals verbally to oppose or challenge police action without thereby risking arrest,” calling that right one of the chief distinctions separating “a free nation from a police state.”
Today in court the judge upheld the First Amendment and dismissed the state’s attempt to charge Depina with witness intimidation because he never referenced his cases while berating Rollins in public.
It is absurd, laughable, and scary that it took a judge’s decision for the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office to learn how the First Amendment works. This is something that should concern everyone. Not only are the people who run our institutions dangerous tyrants, they’re also incredibly stupid. Anyone with a basic understanding of the Bill of Rights knew that there was no probable cause here. Rachael Rollins knew this wasn’t witness intimidation, but she attempted to charge him anyway because she believes that she is above reproach, and that private citizens have no right to publicly disagree with her.
And why wouldn’t she? Kamala Harris, the second most powerful person in the world (who like Rollins is an incompetent power hungry communist who used her racial identity to advance her political career), and every single Senate Democrat voted to confirm her as US Attorney, in spite of the fact that she threatened to make up a lie and falsely charge a reporter who was asking her why she threatened a woman and abused her police powers in a Christmas Eve road rage incident.
— Mike Saccone (@mikesacconetv) December 8, 2021
Rachael Rollins gets rewarded for ratchet, unprofessional behavior that abuses the power of her office. She believes the Bill of Rights was written by racist slaveholders who didn’t understand the power of mean tweets, so it’s unsurprising that she thinks she could disregard the First Amendment altogether. She knows that Suffolk County is in a state where judges are given lifetime appointments by communists, and are confirmed by an 8 member Governor’s Council that exclusively consists of communists. She knew that this was 1A protected speech, but she took a chance in the hope that a Massachusetts judge would disregard the First Amendment and in doing so would create groundbreaking case law that would allow state officials like her to use their powers to silence citizens in the future.
This is an office that decided to stop prosecuting defendants for these 15 crimes, because they believed doing so was criminalizing too many people of color:
But Joao Depina is a person of color who the Suffolk County DA’s Office attempted to prosecute for criticizing Rachael Rollins in public, which is worse than drug dealing, destruction of property, and shoplifting. Rollins’ supporters have been known to call me a racist with no evidence, but I’m not the one out here trying to send black men to jail for 10 years for criticizing elected officials in public. At any point in the last 6 months the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office could’ve stopped their pursuit of Joao, since Rollins no longer works there, but they chose to go after him in order to send a message.
The truth is that the communists don’t give a damn about people of color or people getting caught up in the criminal justice system. The communist only cares about maintaining and wielding power. Depina was good when he was campaigning for Rollins.
And he was good when he was yelling things at former Chief William Gross during a press conference, which is why she humored him by giving him her badge and her phone (1:06 mark).
For that he was protected. But the moment he criticized Rollins he became a threat to the state and had to be silenced using the police and the courts.
After court Depina was ecstatic and posted a video thanking Marc Randazza and Turtleboy for helping him protect the First Amendment.
The first time I wrote about Depina I wrongly posted the legal history of another man with the same name. He contacted me and I took it down immediately, because that’s what real journalists do when they make mistakes. I’ve written critically about Depina before, and I may again in the future. But it doesn’t change the fact that he is entitled to say what he wants to say, and I respect the fact that he confronts public officials and holds them accountable. Last week he did the same thing to Michelle Wu at a parade:
Public officials should welcome this sort of behavior from the people they serve. People like Michelle Wu and Rachael Rollins make a lot of promises they don’t keep, and the people around them kiss their ass and tell them what historic leaders they no matter how badly they do their job. America needs people like Joao Depina, and his victory in court today was a victory for us all.
Special thank you to Marc Randazza for taking this case.