Contemptuous spam

By Legal Eagle

Believe it or not, it’s now possible to commit contempt of court by soliciting your supporters to send hundreds of e-mails to the judge.

The case arose when a salesman, Kevin Trudeau, who apparently sells weight loss cures via infomercials on US TV was taken to court by the US Federal Trade Commission for deceptive advertising. The Chicago Tribune reported:

Gettleman [the judge] found Trudeau in contempt last year for using deceptive advertising as he marketed his book “The Weight Loss Cure ‘They’ Don’t Want You to Know About.” He told his audience the book detailed “the easiest method known on planet Earth,” when in fact the book required followers to not eat meat, poultry, starch, fast food or microwaved food, among other rules, and called for hormone injections.

In an effort to sway the judge to his favour, Trudeau asked his followers to e-mail the judge telling them how the cure had changed their lives. Well wasn’t that a mistake? The Chicago Tribune piece continues:

Gettleman came to a boil last week after Trudeau used an Internet radio broadcast and his Web site to urge supporters to e-mail the judge with messages about how Trudeau’s products had changed their lives.

Some 300 Trudeau fans responded, crashing the judge’s e-mail account and leading him to find Trudeau in criminal contempt of court. On Wednesday, Gettleman called the e-mail attack a deliberate attempt to “harass, intimidate and influence” him.

According to Virulent Word of Mouse, the judge turned on his computer in court so that counsel could hear the “bings!” as the e-mails hit his inbox. Have a read of the Virulent Word of Mouse post, it’s very funny.

The judge ordered Trudeau to serve 30 days in custody for contempt of court.

(H/T Heath Gibson)


  1. Posted March 3, 2010 at 2:44 pm | Permalink

    Since the defendant was clearly inciting people to attempt to influence the judge in a way that actively inconvenienced the judge and bypassed mutual disclosure he gets a fail for stupidity, as well as contempt.

    I bet every judge in the USofA (at the very least) is cheering. Don’t like his appeal chances.

  2. Posted March 3, 2010 at 4:12 pm | Permalink

    This guy has been around since forever.

    Ages and ages ago he had a late night infomercial dressed up as The Danny Bonaduce Show. Danny Bonaduce was the redhead in The Partidge Family and hit the skids for about 20 years. Bonaduce hosted The Vizard Show for a week and did all sorts of weird stuff so I watched the infomerical.

    Trudeau was selling some memory course, He did this sctick where he remembered 50 audience members names, obviously phony. Weird, he’s still going. How can people believe a guy who keeps getting locked up for felonious bullshit? He’ll probably get out of jail and start a religion.

  3. peter
    Posted March 3, 2010 at 7:01 pm | Permalink

    In my journalistic life I happened to cover a maritime incident off the West Australian coast in the early 1980s. Some two decades later a similar sinking occurred off the East Australian coast. My enquiries of the former saw a Federal ministerial letter to me advising of a change in procedure regarding preliminary and final (formal) inquiries.

    In my naivete I thought I should convey this change to the appointed judge in the more recent event, only to get a written court reprimand for my troubles. I thought then and still do that it was way over the top. But maritime law is very conservative which may be why we can’t cope with something like Somali pirates.

  4. Posted March 3, 2010 at 7:18 pm | Permalink

    Peter, I think there’s a large difference between what you did and what this Trudeau came at, even though I realise the courts try to be consistent.

    Also, ‘felonious bullshit’. That’s so good it belongs in the dictionary.

  5. Posted March 3, 2010 at 8:48 pm | Permalink

    Sierra Tango Charlie Foxtrot.

  6. Posted March 4, 2010 at 9:00 am | Permalink

    it is not contempt of court, for a person to describe a judge as a wanker.
    N’uk. 🙂
    The defendant interrupted but did not prevent oral service upon him of the Court process.
    Bawdy places Australian courts.

  7. Posted March 4, 2010 at 9:30 am | Permalink

    Adrien @3. The guy would appear to be a textbook narcissist then: someone for whom the principle my convenience comes first extends all the way to being their reality principle.

  8. Peter Patton
    Posted March 4, 2010 at 10:14 am | Permalink

    I am clearly with the judge on this one. Court proceedings are supposed to controlled and conducted by judges. The idea that people think they should be able to barge into the proceedings whenever and wherever they like shows lack of civics education. It also once again highlights some of the not-so-promising possible uses of the Internet to improve democracy.

  9. Posted March 9, 2010 at 6:25 am | Permalink

    Good post! It really made me stop and think what ‘contempt of court’ means.

    @Adrien – I remember the “mega memory” – what a crock!

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *