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Column: After 2 Mistrials Involving Radio Host Hal Turner, It’s Time to Give Up

Allan Lengel

Allan Lengel

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

As I predicted earlier in the week, a mistrial for the second time was declared Wednesday in Brooklyn federal court in the trial of right wing talk show host Harold Turner, who was accused of threatening the lives of three Court of Appeals judges in Chicago by posting their photos on the Internet and writing that they were “worthy of death”.

The New York Times reported that the jurors, after three days of deliberations, told the judge in the late afternoon that they were hopelessly deadlocked.

“Unfortunately positions have solidified and folks have stated they will not change their minds, no matter how much longer we continue,” they wrote in a note presented to the court, the Times reported.  The first trial ended in a mistrial in December.

Hal Turner/msnbc photo

Hal Turner/msnbc photo

The case was flawed from the outset. Why?

The problem was that Turner had been an FBI informant. And in the second trial he testified that back in 2005 the FBI asked him to take his hateful rhetoric up a notch to help them solve a case involving the murder of a Chicago federal judge’s family members.

The FBI apparently thought the killer might be a white supremacist,  Turner’s target audience. Perhaps Turner might be able to draw the person out.

So Turner said he obliged and said  at the time the judge was “worthy of death”. Last summer, he posted on the Internet the photos of three Chicago federal judges who upheld a gun ban and wrote that  they too were “worthy of death”.

It’s not hard to imagine that at least one juror, if not more,  may have saw little distinction between the two incidents and had a difficult time convicting.

The Times reported that a new trial date has been set for April 12.

The Times wrote that lead prosecutor  William Hogan declined to say whether there would be a third trial.

“We’re going to review it,’ he said, according to the Times. “I’d say it’s highly likely.”

Frankly, it would be a good idea to let this one go and chalk it up to a lesson learned.  It’s really not a question at this point as to whether Turner committed a crime.  The answer is Yes.  It’s not a question of whether he’s a racist. He is.

It’s really an issue of who is holding what cards. And frankly, the government’s cards don’t look so hot.  So it would bode well for the prosecution to give up on this one.  Then again, I could be wrong.


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