Hal Turner Gets 33-Month Prison Sentence for Making Death Threats

December 22, 2010

Hal Turner, a New Jersey-based white supremacist and former Internet radio host and blogger, received a 33-month prison sentence for making online threats against three federal judges in Illinois.  Turner's threats were a reaction to a 2009 ruling in the 7th U.S. Circuit of Appeals, in which the judges upheld handgun bans in Chicago and Oak Park.

Authorities originally arrested Turner in June 2009, after he called the three Chicago judges "traitors" on his blog and said that they "deserved to be killed" for their ruling. In addition to the comments, Turner posted photos of the judges, as well as their names, work addresses and room and phone numbers, along with a photo and map of their courthouse. He also made reference to the case of Matt Hale, a white supremacist who is in prison for soliciting the murder of a federal judge, and to the subsequent murders of members of that judge's family.

Turner, who protested his innocence for nearly an hour at the December 21, 2010, sentencing in federal court in Brooklyn, New York, claimed that the postings on his blog were protected political speech.  He was tried in Brooklyn instead of Chicago to avoid potential conflicts of interest since his case would have been heard in the courthouse presided over by the judges targeted by his threats.

Turner's first two trials ended in mistrials, as jurors cold not agree on a verdict. During the trials, Turner, who had a history of making highly inflammatory and violent remarks on his blog and Internet radio show, said that his actions were part of his role as an FBI informant. At the time Turner made the threats against the Illinois judges, he was no longer working with the FBI.

Turner, who was found guilty by a jury in August 2010, has already served more than eight months behind bars. His time served will count towards his sentence. As part of the sentencing, Turner will be prohibited from participating in Internet or satellite radio programming for three years after he is released from prison.