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Man’s call for Obama assassination is free speech, not crime, court rules

L.A. Times [1]
Wednesday, July 20, 2011

A La Mesa man who posted racial epithets and a call to “shoot” Barack Obama on an Internet chat site was engaging in constitutionally protected free speech, a federal appeals court ruled [2] Tuesday in overturning his criminal conviction.

Walter Bagdasarian was found guilty two years ago of making threats against a major presidential candidate in comments he posted on a Yahoo.com financial website after 1 a.m. on Oct. 22, 2008, as Obama’s impending victory in the race for the White House was becoming apparent. Bagdasarian told investigators he was drunk at the time.

A divided panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned that conviction Tuesday, saying Bagdasarian’s comments were “particularly repugnant” because they endorsed violence but that a reasonable person wouldn’t have taken them as a genuine threat.

Full story here. [1]