Man Sentenced to 2 Years of Probation, $1K Fine for Peaceful Facebook Post About Corrupt Cops

matthew-townsendBy William N. Grigg

Police accountability activist Matthew Townsend no longer faces a prison term over a Facebook post — but the Ada County Prosecutor’s Office may yet find a way to put him behind bars.

Roughly a year ago, as previously reported by The Free Thought Project, Townsend was charged with felony witness intimidation for a Facebook post in which he promised to wage a “non-violent and legal shame campaign” in the event a charge of resisting and obstructing was not dropped following a preliminary hearing on the following day. The March 18, 2015 Facebook post mentioned Corporal Richard Brockbank of the Meridian Police Department, the arresting officer, who had confronted Townsend while the latter was conducting a sidewalk protest in front of a tax preparation business.

Brockbank claimed that Townsend had been jaywalking, although his official incident report did not describe that offense. After a brief conversation in which the officer tried to browbeat Townsend into admitting to the offense, Townsend demanded that Brockbank either charge him or let him go. When Brockbank refused to respond, Townsend shrugged and walked away, as was his legal right. Without legal cause or justification, Brockbank arrested Townsend for “resisting and obstructing.”


“I’m hoping that the REAL reason I was harassed to begin with will be released by the State rather than I,” Townsend wrote, clearly anticipating — against all reasonable expectations, given that the witness was employed in a truth-aversive occupation — that Officer Brockbank would testify freely, fully, and truthfully. “If my case isn’t dismissed tomorrow upon my request, I will begin a non-violent and legal shame campaign that will be remembered….”

That statement was not a threat of criminal violence, but a candid statement of a citizen’s intent to protest abuses he had suffered and to seek redress of grievances. It was recognized as such by District Judge James Cawthon during the March 19, 2015 preliminary hearing.

“While it is concerning what the state is alleging, what I don’t hear is any threats related to any type of physical harm, violence, things of that nature, to the officer involved in this case, or his family,” Cawthon ruled in response to a motion by the prosecution that Townsend be taken into custody (emphasis added).

Rather than ordering that Townsend be taken into custody, Judge Cawthon issued an order setting up a hearing on March 30 and requiring the State “to file that motion and have it served no later than Monday the 23rd.”

If that adversarial hearing had been allowed to occur, the matter would almost certainly have ended there.

Under Idaho case law, Townsend could have explicitly made a personal threat against Brockbank without that act being defined as “witness intimidation” unless clear evidence existed that his intent was to prevent the officer from testifying “fully, freely, and truthfully.” On that understanding, in 2007 the Idaho Supreme Court overturned the witness intimidation conviction of a man who threatened an officer who had arrested him on a domestic violence charge. In 2011, the state Supreme Court overturned another conviction in a case involving an armed assault by the suspect against a witness in a narcotics trial; once again, the central issue was the lack of evidence that this action — which involved a very serious crime — was carried out for the purpose of “affecting future testimony.”

Townsend’s antagonists knew they were riding a weak case. This is why, instead of complying with Judge Cawthon’s order, the Ada County Prosecutor’s Office sought, and obtained, an arrest warrant from a different judge on the following day, pointedly refusing to disclose Cawthon’s ruling and order dealing with the matter. This led to Townsend’s after-dark arrest later that Friday evening — which would have led to a weekend in jail and the loss of his job had his mother not managed to obtain bail.

Townsend’s felony trial was scheduled to begin on January 19. It ended in a mistrial after Assistant Ada County Prosecutor James Vogt objected to defense attorney Aaron Tribble’s passing reference to the fact that Townsend faced a felony charge.

Since March of last year, Townsend informs The Free Thought Project, “I have spent more than $10,000 on my legal defense. There is no doubt I could have won this case on appeal, and it’s very likely that I would have won in a jury trial, too.” Townsend points out that he received a personal message from a juror in his abortive January 19 trial “urging me to keep fighting for my rights.”

As is so often the case, Townsend — a man of modest means employed in the productive sector — simply didn’t have the financial resources to deal with a predatory prosecutor with essentially unlimited funds at his disposal.

“I’ve been very blessed by people willing to help with the costs of this case, but I’ve also had to move out of my home, and I’m an hourly employee who can’t keep taking time off from work,” Townsend points out. “Because of the financial demands of my trial I’ve lost my house.”

Under the terms of the deal with the prosecutor, Townsend pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor charges. He will serve two years of unsupervised probation and was given a 180-day jail sentence, 179 days of which were suspended. He was also hit with a $1,000 fine, with half of that sum suspended.

The contrived felony charge — which carried a maximum sentence of five years in state prison and a $50,000 fine — was dismissed with prejudice. However, the Meridian PD and the Ada County Prosecutor’s Office might still be able to arrange for Townsend to spend half a year in jail — if he comes within eyeshot of his supposed victim, Meridian PD Corporal Richard Brockbank.

Shortly after Townsend was arrested on the “witness intimidation” charge, the Ada County DA obtained a three-year order of protection forbidding him to have any contact with Brockbank, or come within 100 yards of him. The urgent attention displayed by the DA in this matter contrasted sharply with the indifference she exhibited several months later when Meridian resident Makaela Zabael-Gravatt twice sought protective orders after receiving explicit, credible death threats from Christopher Wirfs, a man who had a violent criminal history. Last September, after twice being refused protection by the County Prosecutor’s office or the Meridian PD, Zabael-Gravatt was shot and nearly killed in her own home by Wirfs.

According to domestic violence counselor Jeannie Strohmeyer, the likeliest explanation for the denial of Zabael-Gravatt’s request for a protective order was that there was no “domestic relationship” between her and the aggressor, and she wasn’t able to cite an incident of physical harm – including “false imprisonment.”

Ironically, while it is certainly true that Townsend was not in a domestic relationship with Officer Brockbank, there was a history of violence between them, specifically false imprisonment. In this case, however, it was the perpetrator of the criminal violence who immediately received an order of protection, owing entirely to his privileged status under what we are supposed to pretend is the law.

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In the service of the official fiction that Townsend’s rhetoric victimized a member of the state’s punitive priesthood, Ada County Deputy Prosecuting Attorney James Vogt composed two sophistry-laden motions. In one, an objection to a defense motion to dismiss, Vogt insisted that by criticizing Officer Brockbank on Facebook, Townsend had committed an act directly comparable to a cross-burning carried out by the Ku Klux Klan.

Vogt’s second exercise in Olympic-caliber dishonesty was an objection to a defense Motion in Limine. Since Townsend’s statement was a form of political dissent, that defense motion contended, it is protected by the First Amendment and cannot be construed as a criminal act, so it shouldn’t even be entered into evidence.

In his objection, Vogt wrote that Townsend’s statement that he was prepared to conduct non-violent, legal protests in Brockbank’s neighborhood constituted a “true threat” – owing to the alleged “war on police.”

“Given the current political/cultural climate, Mr. Townsend’s message … [serves] as a real and true threat,” oozed Vogt in his objection. “His words are more threatening in an era where [sic] the police are under attack from civilians, battered, and killed in the line of duty.”

To document that assertion, Vogt’s motion offered a footnote citing four news accounts of police being injured or killed. Two of them described minor injuries suffered by officers in the course of their not-exceptionally-dangerous jobs. Two others were high-profile stories of supposed martyrs in the so-called “war on police”: Lt. Joe Gliniewicz of Fox Lake, Illinois, and Deputy Darren Goforth of Harris County, Texas. Both died as a result of what the public was told were anti-police assassinations, and honored with the familiar Soviet-grade state funeral and saturation media coverage.

As previously reported by The Free Thought Project, Gliniewicz committed suicide as a desperate cover-up for a long criminal career in which he had embezzled from the local Police Explorers program, harassed and threatened female co-workers, and explored the possibility of a contract hit on a county official who was investigating the officer’s illegal activities. Deputy Goforth wasn’t assassinated by a “cop hater;” he was murdered — horribly — by a mentally ill man whose derangement is so severe that he may not have recognized the victim as a law enforcement officer. At the time of the shooting, Goforth — a married father — was not carrying out official duties, but rather en route to an assignation with his mistress, a woman who has been involved with several other deputies from the same department.

Despite the fact that he has done nothing to injure or threaten Corporal Brockbank, Townsend could be arrested and charged if their paths happen to cross at any point over the next three years.

“I’ve been a police accountability activist here for many years,” Townsend points out. “That order of protection places me in direct danger of imprisonment if I peacefully exercise my rights, or, for that matter, if I happen to run into Brockbank while simply going about my business. I can’t feel safe anywhere in Meridian or Ada County — and yet somehow I’m threatening him?”

In keeping with the preferred procedures of its disreputable profession, the Ada County Prosecutor’s Office was able to arrange punishment without proving the offense.

William N. Grigg writes for TheFreeThoughtProject.com

  • eddysach

    This is essentially extreme prosecutorial misconduct with viciously vindictive actions from some little Hitler who’s gone power mad when given a bit of authority…. Is this ‘Fascist’ enough for everyone to comprehend & fully understand???…. that people entrusted to public office to carry out out the wishes of their civilian constituents- are supposed to be duty bound to protect us …but in fact are going out of their way to intentionally brutalize us…while all over the US police thugs are (when not outright killing us) throwing us to the ground & painfully jamming their jack boots viciously on our necks ….as has been taught to these knuckle-dragger Kontrol Freaks by taxpayer funded junkets for US Police Chiefs to fly round trip to Israhell ….& then wined & dined…. & then trained & ergo inculcated by the Mossad- in heavy-handed tactics…. just like they treat the Palestinians….all this for the eventual GAZIFICATION of Mom & Pop USA….you don’t have to be psychic to know what’s coming next.(imo)

    • Scary. The Hitler Card was played.

      • William Burke

        “Little Hitler” is hardly “playing the Hitler Card”.

        Unless, of course, you happen to be Hitler.

    • William Burke

      Well said!

    • Veri Tas

      There’s a lot of money to be made from the private prison industry….

  • Juan

    Well, I hope they are ready to address the HUSSEIN obama muslim islamic terrorists that are being imported into America and routed to Boise. Boise Mayor David Bieter has welcomed the (refugees) otherwise known as muslim islamic terrorists into the Boise, Meridian area. Maybe a retraining program is upcoming for the locals so they can be replaced by the NWO Amerikans.

    • William Burke

      But it’s FAR more than a takedown of America. It’s a takedown of Western Civilization; THE 300 writ larger, to do what the Persians left undone at Thermopylae.

  • Natasha78

    This is happening all over the USA. And DA’s are trying to falsely charge anyone that tells, and if they can’t find one thing on you, they look for another. It’s government blackmail all over the map and they have been doing this to me for telling about a judge that dismissed a $4.5 million dollar law suit that I won by default on the other side and instead of issuing a ruling, he dismissed it, and then they invented false charges to try to force me to take it off my youtube channel. They have come after me with other sets of false charges, and the governement has not stopped spending money trying to frame me. While all of them have committed crimes themselves to get me, including the DA, (she has been turned in for 88 counts of prosecutorial misconduct and she still won’t do her job or drop the false charges against me that don’t meet the statute. you have to keep fighting them, and even though I moved 9 months ago, they are still attempting to try to give me a record. They have cost me everything, stolen all of the victories that I won by the law, and they still won’t stop. It’s truly insane, and we have to tell, and tell it some more because if they continue to get away with it, we will wake up one day and not be able to speak about fresh air and sunshine.

    • Jas

      They have to attack you to protect their racket, there is not enough court time to process all the extortion they do, so they want to use fear to prevent others from showing up to contest instead of just sending a check. Haven’t seen a poor judge yet….

      • Natasha78

        yes most of the judges are the biggest part of the problem, so corrupt, and so “bias” they are beyond fathom in what they do to people. I am so glad people are talking about it, it’s the only way to call them out and make change.

    • eddysach

      Sorry you’re on the receiving end of this is a dystopian criminal intent that’s ironically ON THE WRONG SIDE OF THE LAW…may these satanic minion SOB’s get what’s coming to them when they eventually stand naked in front of their maker….this is all copy cay misanthropy direct from the top of the pyramid cap….rotten to the core & the bloodline vampire reptilian Bankster’s are directly responsible (imo)

      • Natasha78

        I know and if you have a brain, are honest and tell what they are doing, they go after you more, but it’s still the right thing to do. If we all sit back because they bully and let them ruin our lives in private, what happens is that it gets worse. I continued to tell, and fight them, until they all committed so many crimes themselves that it is laughable to go after me who has never committed a crime and just wanted justice for myself. I wish it wasn’t true, but only certain people are strong enough to survive it and keep going, I just be one of those, and karma has already gotten rid of one judge, they threw him off the bench, and there are a few more likely to lose this war with themselves. I just wish I knew how to fight for the money I did win, but in reality if they paid out that judgement I would likely be 6 feet under by now. Sad but so real.

      • Brett

        Yep. What goes around will eventually come around. Now thats a natural law of the universe that always wins. I wonder if the satanic minion realise that?

    • Brett

      Disgraceful! Its not much better here in Australia i promise you. So many laws and rules everyone is a breath away from breaking the law in some capacity. But, very few people seem to see it! Law? Ha! The law is not there to protect us thats for sure, Natasha. Your experience must be so stressing too!

      • Natasha78

        Yes it’s so stressful, sad and days are impossible, but when you continue to take your stand and they can’t hide behind how much they have done, (putting it all on social media has saved me) and you just keep staying true to who you are, and letting them look foolish. I have moved away for close to a year and they are still chasing me. And it’s going to come to an end soon, and I will be telling the whole story to help others and save others.

  • Archie1954

    It is long past time for prosecutors like this one to be pounding the pavement looking for work!

    • Natasha78

      the prosecutor in my state commits more crimes than a bank robber, and she’s even been written up on the Boston Globe, and I turned her in for 88 counts of prosecutorial misconduct, and working on getting her fired. She is truly a nutcase, and no one has stood up to her.

      • CAWS

        Have you tried the media? Sounds like a good 60 minutes story to me.

        • Natasha78

          Yes I am getting ready to tell the story it’s something we have to wake up the world about, because they are so out of control in places and trying people like this man without due process, and trying to do it to me, and as horrible as it is real, if we don’t stop them, it’s going to become normal. I will never be able to process what they have done, but at the end of the day, I will recover, they will remain sociopaths, and criminals for going so far to try to give a lawful honest non criminal citizen a phony record for telling the truth. And if we don’t make it as real and awful as that, our younger generation will never stand a chance at living in a right world. They are still trying to give me this false record and run 3 separate trials in order to try to have 1 thing stick and it’s getting to the time where I go more and more public in order to make them stop. Thank you so much for your comment and support.

          • eddysach

            Take care & good luck…cheers

    • Natasha78

      In our broken judicial system, DA’s are not prosecuting the criminal acts that are commmitted by Judges, Clerk’s, and corrupt cops. They are ignoring all the crimes that are comiitted by people that work in courts, law, and police stations, but going after anyone that wants to tell about it. This is the sad reality of the beginning of a dictatorship. My advice is to keep telling on them, Social media is a higher platform and a place that they have to answer to. If we go silent, then huma rights as well as civil rights and the 1st amendment disappear. Sad reality.

  • dave549863214

    He shouldn’t of started the fight if he didn’t plan on finishing it. Yes it was a crooked DA. but dont piss on a fire with a can of gas in your hands.

  • tomanonymous

    F
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  • Undecider

    Rule #1 for social media. Never use your real identity. Heck! The President of the United States doesn’t even go by his birth name.

  • CAWS

    And yet Hillary still walks free. Wonder if they plan to wait till she is elected to arrest her…

    • Jas

      She would be immune until she leaves office through end of term or impeachment.

  • eddysach

    typical overcompensation by someone with a small penis & room temperature IQ…sad ….& hilarious at the same time.

    • Gosh, eddy, did my photoshop prowess cause you immense envy? Sure sounds that way.

      Now if you had a clue about what Hitler did and was really about (other than what your Rabbi has scared you with), I might waste more time with you, but it is apparent that you are either shilling or a moron.

  • Randy

    Again, everybody, do a search for and read The Scam of the Legal System and share it with everybody that you know!

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