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Seattle Post Intelligencer: Wash. Website owner wins free speech case

SEATTLE — The state Supreme Court ruled Thursday a trial judge overreached his authority when he restricted a man from posting information on a Web site. Paul Trummel was jailed for more than three months in 2002 in his free-speech standoff with the judge over the Web site he used as a forum for attacking the Council House, a federally subsidized retirement home where he once lived.
Trummel posted the phone numbers and addresses of Council House staff, directors and residents – something that King County Superior Court Judge James Doerty characterized as harassment.
Trummel removed the information after his release from jail, but appealed his case.
His attorney, William Crittenden, called the high court's unanimous ruling a victory for free speech.
In siding with Trummel in the online aspect of the case, the justices added that there was clear evidence of Trummel's predatory behavior toward Council House residents, staff and directors.
That behavior indicated the need to bar him from contacting them in person, by telephone, by writing or through a third person, the court said.
Trummel currently faces six charges of violating the anti-harassment order, said his criminal attorney, Brad Meryhew. Meryhew said he did not know how the justices' ruling would affect those charges.
He said all the charges concern information on Trummel's Web site or communications with relatives of Council House residents or staff.
Trummel was evicted from the home in April 2001, and Crittenden said he did not know his client's location at this time.

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