Monday, July 23, 2012

The Dark Side of Privacy

by Professor Eugene Volokh

The Courier-Journal (Louisville) reports:


Frustrated by what she felt was a lenient plea bargain for two teens who pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting her and circulating pictures of the incident, a Louisville 17-year-old lashed out on Twitter.

“There you go, lock me up,” Savannah Dietrich tweeted, as she named the boys who she said sexually assaulted her. “I’m not protecting anyone that made my life a living Hell.”

Now, Dietrich is facing a potential jail sentence, as the attorneys for the boys have asked a Jefferson District Court judge to hold her in contempt because they say that in naming her attackers, she violated the confidentiality of a juvenile hearing and the court’s order not to speak of it.

A contempt charge carries a potential sentence of up to 180 days in jail and a $500 fine.

An order barring a victim from revealing the names of her assailants is, I think, clearly unconstitutional, even when the assailants are juveniles. Oklahoma Publishing Co. v. District Court (1977) expressly rejected the notion that courts or legislatures may bar the publication of the names of juvenile offenders; that case involved a newspaper’s publishing the name of the juvenile offender, which it learned from a court hearing, but the rationale applies at least as strongly to a person’s publishing a name that she learned from the attack itself. Likewise, even when it comes to grand jury proceedings — probably the most historically secret part of the criminal justice system — Butterworth v. Smith (1990) held that, while a grand jury witness could be barred from revealing what he learned as part of the grand jury proceedings, the witness could not be generally barred from revealing information that he had learned on his own (even if that was the subject of his testimony).

The same applies here, I think. Dietrich revealed what she knew even before the trial — the names of her attackers — and that they are juveniles cannot strip her of her First Amendment rights on this score. And while she also revealed that they got a plea bargain, something she presumably learned through the court proceedings, that strikes me as the sort of information about the court system and the prosecutor’s office that the state cannot stop people from revealing. (Note that parties who get some confidential information from other parties via discovery may be barred from revealing it, see Seattle Times Co. v. Rhinehart, and the same may be true about much confidential information learned through grand jury proceedings or through closed proceedings, but Butterworth shows that this principle is limited; and it doesn’t apply to what was learned by the speaker independently of the proceedings and, I think, to information about the sentences that the prosecutor urged.)

Dietrich’s problem, I think, is that she seems to have violated the court order, rather than challenging it when it was entered. (All this is based on what I read in the newspaper story, which I realize may not be fully accurate.) Under Walker v. City of Birmingham (1967), a person generally is not allowed to violate even an unconstitutional court order; he must challenge it on appeal (or via a similar procedure, such as mandamus), or abide by it. But even that “collateral bar” rule has an exception for “transparently invalid” court orders, and it seems to me this exception applies here. And in any event, the collateral bar rule can’t justify the judge’s decision in issuing this order.


Make Your Own Petition


Yitzchok Kimmel said...


Considering how much UOJ hates fake mekubolim, I should have known this would end up here.

Anonymous said...

Any relation to Leo Kimmel whose clients include heimishe molesters and al Qaeda terrorists?

Yerachmiel Lopin said...

A perfect story for Unorthodox Jew. This is like Hynes not releasing the names of perpetrators to "protect the victims." A nechtige tug. I have a lot of respect for every brave victim willing to name his or her assailants.

Meanwhile, switching stories, I gotta admire Penn State for removing Joe Paterno's statue. Let's see something similar happen in the frum world. Of course our statues would be kollelim, seforim, buildings, and most of all , the central object of avodah zorah bizmaneinu, shidduchim.

itchiemayer said...

Wow, I know a woman who considers Rabbi Yitzchok Kimmel her Rebbe. She has encouraged me numerous times to go to Brooklyn to see him. I don't know anything, but I am curious why this was posted now when these assertions have been on the web for a couple of years.

Ezra Taft said...


Can anyone confirm the rumor on Hirshel Tzig's blog that the Agudah is "Mormonizing" anyone who buys siyum tickets as Agudah members?

Anonymous said...

I noticed a blog called Hat Thief mentioning there is a Rabbi Yisroel Meir Popack who was at the center of an abuse scandal, so I looked this guy up. He is head Chabad shaliach to Colorado who went through a very messy divorce after having 12 kids. Court papers posted online show his wife accusing him of such things as soaking her mattress with water when she was trying to recuperate from an operation to sabotaging the wiring in her car.

Hat Thief mentions that Rabbi Popack was "cleared" by an "investigation" of the Iggud Harabbonim, a notoriously corrupt and pro-molester organization.

From the Denver Post archives:


Peter G. Chronis and Alan Snel Denver Post Staff Writers
October 24, 1996; Page B-01
Section: Denver & The West
Article ID: DNVR659327 -- 871 words
The wife of a key rabbi in the ultraorthodox Jewish Lubavitcher sect has taken the unusual action of seeking a legal separation in Denver District Court, alleging that her husband has abused her and the couple's children.
Chana Elka Ella Popack, 46, filed the petition Sept. 10. She also obtained a temporary restraining order against her husband, Rabbi Yisroel Meir Popack, 49, a spiritual leader in Denver's Lubavitch community. The couple has been married for 24 Click for complete article ($2.95)

Howard Pankratz Denver Post Legal Affairs Writer
December 5, 1996; Page B-02
Section: Denver & The West
Article ID: DNVR662891 -- 529 words
A Denver rabbi was ordered yesterday to stay 25 feet away from a doctor who earlier this year helped the rabbi's wife and nine of their 12 children to flee to a California safehouse.
Denver County Judge Doris Burd said that on Oct. 13, Rabbi Yisroel Meir Popack, 49, a spiritual leader in Denver's Jewish Lubavitcher community, threatened to kill Dr. Heidi Tessler, the Popack family's physician.

Alan Snel Denver Post Staff Writer
January 17, 1997; Page B-01
Section: Denver & The West
Article ID: DNVR666414 -- 464 words
A feud between a Hasidic Denver rabbi and an Orthodox Jewish doctor got uglier yesterday when a Jewish court document said it had "excommunicated" the doctor and her husband.
But Dr. Heidi Tessler of Denver, who helped the rabbi's wife and nine of their 12 children flee to a safehouse last year, charged that the action was illegal and that it was "used purely for revenge."

Willy B said...

Unless the alter Mirrer Rav Blumenkranz is still alive, the only non-chassidish shul still left in Williamsburg would be Shea Fishman's. And it looks like the dumb putz is still advocating for molesters even after Eli Pasik & UOJ forced his resignation from Torah Umesorah.


Rabbi Nuchim Rosenberg states that Fishman heeded orders from Satmar to ban him from davening in his shul as part of their binge to have him banned him from every shul in town to punish him for sticking up for child victims.

Archie Bunker said...


What a disgrace! It bugs Satmar that a rov who is machmir on lo saamod is davening by Fishman, but not this guy:

Brooklyn politician Steve Cohn who is a member of Shea Fishman's shul and the VP of Yeshiva of Flatbush has his annual breakfast in Junior's, a treif restaurant.

Cohn is talmid muvhok of Brooklyn Democrat boss Vito Lopez yemach shmo who is helping the Catholic Church, Agudah & Satmar make sure that laws do not get passed against child molesters.


It says here that Shea Fishman's shul in Williamsburg was started in 1869 by a group of "traditional" Reform Jews who broke away from their temple because they didn't like the new Reform idea of playing an organ on Shabbos.

"Something" of Flatbush said...

Very interesting that modern orthodox Yeshiva of Flatbush with their gay headmaster rabbi who "came out of the closet" have a Vice President conspiring with pedophile advocates like Lopez and Fishman.

R' Avigdor Miller ztl who fought hard against Kolko & Margo, always refused to call the school on Ave J a yeshiva. He called it "something of Flatbush".

Anonymous said...

Rav Schach's modern orthodox PhD son taught at YOF for many years before this new crop of lowlives took over.

Shanda said...


Matt Brooks & Ari Fleischer of the Republican Jewish Coalition came last week in coordination with the American Agudah to speak in heimishe batei medrash in Eretz Yisroel to sign up expat heimishe to vote in the upcoming US election.


Here is a picture of the Agudah's Rabbi Shmuely Machlis together with Matt Brooks, who put on a black hat for probably the first time in his life. I have another picture from a print newspaper that shows them together with Ari Fleischer. Fleischer is a former White House Press secretary who was a talmid of the Torah Umesorah day school in Westchester. The Agudah always picks the big winners to hang out with. Fleischer married Rebecca Elizabeth Davis, an employee in the Office of Management and Budget, in an interfaith ceremony. Rabbi Harold White officiated the ceremony with the participation of Rev. Michael Kelley, a Roman Catholic priest. They live in New York with their two children.

Of all the machers in the RJC, the Agudah had to bring this intermarried guy to address bnei Torah in batei medrash?

Shanda said...

There are at least 3 frum guys on the RJC board: Phil Rosen, Bernie Marcus and co-founder George Klein (President of the Upper East Side Bais Yaakov). Ober der Agudah brengt Ari Fleischer mit zein shiksa.


Pa. monsignor who became 1st US church official branded felon for sex cover-up gets 3-6 years

Anonymous said...

The biggest lowlife is Margo whose protector is Joe Taback. What goes around... now that Joe has screwed shiksas around the world he's having major problems of own..

Dr. Bungalow Putz said...

Is that the Taback that owns the bungalow colonies? Vos iz geshain?