Grieving father Jonathan Vanderhagen, who was thrown in jail with a $500,000 bond after making social media posts exposing a judge he blames for taking away his now-deceased son, was acquitted today on all charges in a Macomb County, Mich. courtroom.
Big League Politics reported on this case last week, and it has gained national attention due to its unconstitutional and overreaching implications. Vanderhagen’s lawyer, Nicholas Somberg, made the announcement that his client was exonerated today on social media.
“I asked in my closing for a QUICK Not Guilty to send a message to the prosecutor that this was WRONG,” Somberg declared in a Facebook post.
“Jury deliberated for 26 minutes and 8 seconds … Jonathan Vanderhagen is FREE!!!” he added.
Earlier in the day, Somberg noted that Vanderhagen took the stand and gave testimony about his painful ordeal. There was “not a dry eye in the room” as Vanderhagen talked about the pain of losing a young daughter and then being punished by the courts for speaking out about what had happened.
Vanderhagen was given an opportunity to take a plea deal and avoid trial, but refused to admit guilt to a crime he did not believe he committed. He was eventually vindicated by a jury of his own peers, who affirmed his right to free speech in the court of law earlier today.
The nightmare began for Vanderhagen after he lost a custody battle for his son over two years ago, and then his son died shortly after while in his mother’s custody. He had warned the court about the mother’s history of unstable behavior, but his pleas were ultimately ignored by Judge Rachel Rancilio and the court referee. Vanderhagen believes their decision was ill-advised and possibly led to his son’s untimely death.
Vanderhagen expressed his anguish on social media afterward, assigning blame toward Judge Rancilio for her role in the custody hearing. As a result, Rancilio complained about her safety, and the Macomb County Sheriff’s office charged Jonathan with malicious use of telecommunications services to protect her from Vanderhagen’s free speech.
Rancilio tried to garner sympathy in the court room earlier in the week by claiming on the stand that she received numerous death threats because of Vanderhagen’s social media posts. Rancilio had hoped an example would be made of Vanderhagen so the little people would know the consequences that resulted from speaking ill of the kritarchy.
“It wasn’t just one post,” she said while attempting to produce crocodile tears. “It was a compilation of it all. … I was scared something was going to happen to myself, my children.”
“The death threats I’ve been getting as a result of this stuff is horrifying. I’m terrified. It continues to this day,” she added.
Rancilio’s sentiments were ultimately rejected by the jury, who found that Vanderhagen’s 1st Amendment rights were more important than her subjective feelings.
While Vanderhagen’s life has been harmed substantially because of a court system desperate to shield its own, justice was finally served today with a victory for whistle-blowers against judicial tyranny nationwide.
Gray Wolves Spotted in Central California for the First Time in a Century
Wolves are traveling from Oregon to Central California.
A gray wolf (canis lupus) has been observed in counties of California’s Sierra Nevada mountain range, with the animal returning to territory from which it’s been absent from for nearly a century. The GPS-tracked wolf, designated OR-93, has traveled south from Oregon, passing through Modoc County and Alpine County. Most recently, the wolf entered Mono County.
The journey of the young male wolf represents new territorial range from the species. Biologists believe it’s possible the wolf’s presence could result in the formation of new wolf packs in the Sierra Nevada region, should the animal prove successful in returning to the area with a mate. The wolf broke off from Oregon’s White River Pack southeast of Mt. Hood sometime within the past few months. Previously, wolves that ventured into California from Oregon didn’t travel south of Lake Tahoe, the single largest alpine lake in North America, that straddles the California-Nevada border.
“OR-93’s historic trek so far south into California’s central Sierra Nevada is thrilling news for wolf recovery throughout the West,” said Pamela Flick, director of the California preservation group Defenders of Wildlife. “OR-93 also importantly brings the potential for increased genetic diversity to our state.”
Wolves were dealt with as pestilence during the American settlement of the western United States, and the animals still pose a threat to the livestock of ranchers to this day. The animals were eliminated from the state of California entirely sometime in the 1920’s, and a gray wolf was seen in California for the first time in almost a century in 2011.
Wolf attacks on humans are extremely rare, although if the population is restored in Eastern California, farmers and ranchers will have to find deterrents for threats to their livestock. The presence of wolves in the region can serve as a benefit to the local ecosystem, assisting to keep the population levels of destructive animals in check.
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