This is Part 12 of my continuing coverage of the legal plight of Bruce Aristeo of Camden, New Jersey originally begun with a relationship breakup and civil dispute with Jody Raines and subsequently escalated to the Camden County (NJ) Prosecutor’s Office. His trial begins January 11, 2016. Because there have now been 11 articles I have written thus far regarding the Jody Raines-Camden Country Prosecutors vs. Bruce Aristeo Legal Saga (and to my chagrin, it seems there will be more to come), I have decided to relocate the index to its own separate page. Relocating the Index to the Jody Raines-Camden County Prosecutors vs. Bruce Aristeo Legal Saga to its own page will make future articles easier to read and follow.
As of last week, there is a whole new twist. It seems Camden County Prosecutors have officially gotten wind of Defiantly.net’s coverage of Bruce Aristeo’s legal saga and unhappy about it. Not only are they unhappy about it, they want to do something about it. They want to punish Bruce in a pretty bad way. They filed an “Affidavit in Support of Motion to Remove Defendant From Pretrial Services Program and Increase Defendant’s Bail.”
I am pasting the text of Assistant Camden County Tracy Cogan’s Affidavit. (BOLD is my emphasis).
Tracy A. Cogan, being duly sworn according to law, deposes and says:
- I am an Assistant Camden County Prosecutor.
- I am the Assistant Prosecutor assigned to prosecute the above captioned Indictment pending against State v. Bruce Aristeo.
- The defendant is indicted for a violation of N.J.S. 2C:12-10c, Stalking, third degree. Trial in this matter is currently scheduled for January 11, 2016.
- The Honorable Lee A. Solomon signed the initial bail order with special conditions on May 17, 2013. A copy of this Order is attached hereto and made part hereof as Exhibit A.
- This Court most recently modified defendant’s bail on May 29, 2015, allowing defendant to reside in Philadelphia as a modification of his Pretrial Supervision Agreement. However, the special conditions of defendant’s bail remained in effect, including the condition that the Defendant is prohibited from making or causing to be made any communication, directly or indirectly, or through third parties regarding Jody Raines, her family, her friends, her business, or her pets in any manner which may be construed by this Court as likely to cause annoyance or alarm, and that defendant is prohibited from utilizing any internet and/or social media postings, directly or indirectly, or through third parties regarding, referring to, or simulating, characterizing or alluding to Jody Raines, her family, her friends, her business or her pets in any form, including, but not limited to YouTube, Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. A copy of this Order with the special conditions is attached hereto and made part hereof as Exhibit B.
- On or about November 9, 2015, Detective Auletto of the Camden County Prosecutor’s Office located a website Defiantly.net. On the website Matthew Valor indicated he received documents from Bruce Aristeo. As per the website these documents were uploaded and are currently available for viewing by the public. The documents include the Indefinite TRO entered in this matter, along with some videos that are the subject of the pending Indictment, along with other discovery and correspondence. On Defiantly.net there is a link to another website, Scribd. Available on Scribd are various pieces of discovery in this matter.
- Detective Auletto also located defendant’s Twitter account; twitter.com/BruceAristeo@BruceAristeo. Available on defendant’s Twitter account is a link to the above website, Defiantly.net, providing direct access to the discovery, videos, and references to the victim in this matter, as well as her business, etc.
- Attached hereto and made part hereof is Exhibit C, a disc, which includes screen shots of Defiantly.net, videos posted on Defiantly.net, and screen shots of defendant’s Twitter account.
- The State avers that these postings on Defiantly.net and Twitter are in violation of this Court’s special bail conditions prohibiting defendant from making or causing to be made any communication, directly or indirectly, or through third parties regarding Jody Raines, her family, her friends, her business, or her pets in any manner which may be construed by this Court as likely to cause annoyance or alarm and prohibiting defendant from utilizing any internet and/or social media postings, directly or indirectly, or through third parties regarding, referring to, or simulating, characterizing or alluding to Jody Raines, her family, her friends, her business or her pets.
Based upon the foregoing, the State is asking the Court to remove defendant from Pretrial Services Supervision and increase bail to the original amount of $75,000 cash or bond with the special conditions of said bail to remain in effect. The State is further requesting the added condition that the defendant be denied access to the internet or any social media via ANY MEANS.
What does all this mean? Allow this non-lawyer to take liberty to translate and offer comment.
First off, Defiantly.net is a small news/commentary website devoted to covering very niche topics. The readership is currently small but the intelligence and quality of its readership is very high. Defiantly.net is not read by the casual reader. Defiantly.net is read by people interested in the First Amendment, Internet free speech, unethical copyright enforcement practices, abusive restraining orders, prior restraints, and other niche legal matters.
Second, I don’t believe that Detective Christopher J. Auletto found Defiantly.net by himself because it is such a small, narrowly-read website. It is more likely that Jody Raines or one of her associates discovered Defiantly.net through monitoring her SEO and reported it to Christopher Auletto. (Defiantly.net gets good SEO on niche topics).
Third, Assistant Prosecutor Tracy Cogan is desperately trying to hang her hat on very questionable bail terms that I have covered before (such as referring to a woman’s pet, her business, their prior relationship, prior lawsuits, etc. that “annoys” someone). Anyone who understands what First Amendment protected content is and watches Bruce’s humorous YouTube commentary videos will likely shake their head and roll their eyes ad become disgusted with Tracy Cogan’s latest action.
Fourth, Tracy Cogan’s request to “remove defendant from Pretrial Services Supervision” is a fancy way of requesting the court to take Bruce off the ankle monitor program which would then require Bruce to go back to jail. Reinstating the bail to $75,000 is beyond the pale and flatly unreasonable. Effectively, that means that Tracy is trying her very best to keep Bruce physically and electronically isolated from anyone that might legally assist him or tell his story.
Fifth, Tracy Cogan’s final statement “The State is further requesting the added condition that the defendant be denied access to the internet or any social media via ANY MEANS (my emphasis)” is quite ominous. Bruce has no lawyer and no public defender. They seized much of his computer equipment. He has no job and no income. He has no home to call his own. But they want to prevent him from using the Internet to email anyone (such as myself, the EFF, Eugene Volokh, bloggers, his friends, allies, or lawyers that may want to assist him). They want to prevent him from doing legal research on New Jersey law, New Jersey precedent case law, legal articles, and accessing his personal files on the Internet cloud. They want to deprive him of any recreation and social uses of the Internet such as casual reading, watch movies, listen to music, play games, or engage in online chat/conversation. That is what “denying access to the internet and social media via ANY MEANS” means.
Since Christopher Auletto and Tracy Cogan seem to be printing out Defiantly.net articles for the court to read, perhaps they should also print this one out. Where is the common sense? Are there no real criminals in Camden County to go after? Why are they wasting taxpayer money prosecuting Bruce? It is now woefully clear to my readership that Camden County is populated with questionable prosecutors and lawyers who have chosen to ignore and roughshod over a person’s First Amendment and free speech rights. Further, they appear to be doing whatever they can to punish Bruce for reaching out for help in his cause and squash his right and ability to effectively mount a pro se legal defense for himself.
It wasn’t bad enough that they succeeded in putting Bruce in jail for six-months and now wears an ankle monitor. But they want to silence him from getting any help whatsoever by cutting off his Internet access altogether. Last time I checked, New Jersey is in the United States. It is not in China, North Korea, Iraq, or Afghanistan. It seems likely the will soon learn about the Streisand Effect.
Follow Defiantly on Twitter at http://twitter.com/defiantlynet or the Defiantly Facebook Fan Page at http://facebook.com/defiantly.net. Subscribe by Email to the Defiantly Blog in the Blue Box in the Upper Right Corner.