In a ruling released Jan. 15, 2009 in New Haven, U.S. District Judge Mark Kravitz said he would schedule a trial on the narrow issue of the suppression and seizure of free speech t-shirts in the Famous Douche Bag Case. Travesty Kravitz's rulings contort and bury most of the core issues in the case, including a stolen election, tampering of documents and various frauds - including false testimony -- upon the court.
Appeal On Other Issues Possible After Trial
Following is a Readers Digest version of the Doninger case:
Avery Doninger, a volunteer in the Americorps national public service program, has a civil rights trial pending in New Haven U.S. District Court. [Among her duties on the job: helping hurricane victims in Texas.]
Avery, a 2008 graduate of Lewis Mills High School in Burlington, CT, and her mother, Lauren Doninger, sued Principal Karissa Niehoff and Superintendent Paula Schwartz [now retired] after they removed Avery from the ballot for class secretary.
Avery Doninger was among a group of four students who lobbied the community for support of an annual battle of the bands sponsored by the Student Council. The student council adviser suggested the students reach out to taxpayers and the students copied the adviser an on email to the community.
Schwartz became very upset after taxpayers called her and she cancelled the event known as Jamfest. Doninger subsequently referred to administrators in a live journal blog as central office douche bags, and Schwartz's son found the posting while trolling the internet for his mother a couple weeks later. While Avery Doninger was banned from school office, another student who called Schwartz a dirty whore was given an award and lauded for citizenship.
School officials suppressed the write-in vote in which Doninger was elected by a plurality. Schwartz refused to accept Doninger's apology for her choice of words. During an assembly, Niehoff banned free-speech and Team Avery t-shirts and seized at least one shirt.
The Doningers have been seeking -- among other remedies -- an apology for civil rights violations and recognition of the write-in victory.
New Haven U.S. District Judge Mark Kravitz denied a motion for a preliminary injunction [immediate relief] in August 2007. Based on errors in the record, Travesty Kravitz's injunction ruling was upheld by the U.S. Second Circuit in New York.
Travesty Kravitz held a hearing in November 2008 on Doninger's request for a trial. He cut off discussion about various frauds - including false testimony - upon the court and ultimately ordered a trial on Jan. 15, 2009. But, he limited the scope of the trial to the narrow issue of the suppression and seizure of free speech t-shirts.
Other Links Throughout
For A Sense Of What
Travesty Kravitz Ignored
Travesty Kravitz And The Temple Of Self Delusion
By ANDY THIBAULT
The Cool Justice Report
Jan. 16, 2008
EDITOR'S NOTE: This column is available for reprint courtesy of The Cool Justice Report, http://cooljustice.blogspot.com
BURLINGTON, CT, aka DOUCHEBAGVILLE -- First, a few more headlines, musical accompaniment and perspective on this matter:
Suppression Of Argument
By Flawed Judge
Chill Off-Campus Speech
Travesty Kravitz The Best Friend
A Douche Bag Ever Had
He Could Not Avoid Trial,
But Will Likely Continue
Attempt To Keep Focus Narrow
Travesty Kravitz Has Failed
In His Most Sacred Oath:
To Protect The Constitution
He Stands As An Impediment To Justice,
Blocking The Road To A Jury Trial
On All The Facts And Issues
The Famous Douche Bag Case
The Basis Of Travesty Kravitz's Rulings,
Court Docs Detailing Alleged Fraud By Niehoff, Schwartz, et al
"If you don't want a house built, hide the nails and wood. If you don't want a man unhappy politically, don't give him two sides to a question to worry him; give him one. Better yet, give him none. Let him forget there is such a thing as war. If the government is inefficient, top heavy and tax mad; better it be all those than that people worry over it. Peace, Montag. Give the people contests they win by remembering the words to more popular songs or the names of state capitals or how much corn Iowa grew last year. Cram them full of non combustible data, chock them so damned full of 'facts' they feel stuffed, but absolutely 'brilliant' with information. Then they'll feel they're thinking, they'll get a sense of motion without moving … "
-- From Fire Capt. Beatty In Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451
"LAWS ARE LIKE SPIDER WEBS," ANARCHARSIS SAID A COUPLE THOUSAND YEARS AGO. "THEY HOLD THE WEAK AND DELICATE WHO ARE CAUGHT IN THEIR MESHES, BUT ARE TORN TO PIECES BY THE RICH AND POWERFUL."
"It Doesn't Matter What The First Amendment Says; It Matters Who Has The Power To Enforce It Or Ignore It."
-- Howard Zinn
"In The Halls Of Justice, The Only Justice Is In The Halls."
-- Lenny Bruce
1. a literary or artistic burlesque of a serious work or subject, characterized by grotesque or ludicrous incongruity of style, treatment, or subject matter.
2. a literary or artistic composition so inferior in quality as to be merely a grotesque imitation of its model.
3. any grotesque or debased likeness or imitation: a travesty of justice.
And now, a short narrative:
Travesty Kravitz, aka New Haven U.S. District Judge Mark Kravitz, reminds me of Society Carey.
Society Carey was the lame New York Gov. Hugh Carey who lived the high life with his special friends instead of serving the people. Jimmy Breslin gave Society Carey the moniker. Society Carey stuck, because it was true.
After seeing Travesty Kravitz in action over the past couple years, I am convinced he took the wrong career path. Travesty Kravitz's true vocation should be as a Mr. Manners for New Haven's Q Club wait staff. There, he could make sure everything ran smoothly for his people, the government class and assorted higher-ups. As we all know, the high-end restaurant business is a perfect place for a boss or owner to impose arbitrary standards and make sure the service class stays where it belongs.
Like many of his peers, Travesty Kravitz cannot be accused of being an impartial umpire. He doesn't even pretend to be an umpire. Rather, Travesty Kravitz seems to fancy himself an erudite censor. At whim or perhaps by design, Travesty Kravitz cuts off any hint of testimony or argument about a U.S. citizen's right to seek redress of grievances. He then inserts himself as a talk show host wannabe under the guise of pretentious and contrived Socratic dialogue.
This type of action by an elite apologist on the bench is not unique in U.S. history. For, while we are taught that we are blessed with freedom of speech, reality is much different.
Just a few years after the adoption of the First Amendment, a Vermont Congressman Matthew Lyon was jailed for four months because of an article he wrote criticizing President John Adams.
Teacher Jonathan Kozol was fired from the Boston Public Schools for teaching a poem by Langston Hughes. Kozol went on to write Death At An Early Age, The Destruction of the Hearts and Minds of Negro Children in the Boston Public Schools, which won the National Book Award.
U.S. history is loaded with blatant violations of free speech, sanctioned by presidents, cops, school bosses and courts. That a lackey of the government and elite classes would continue the tradition should shock only the uninformed.
Travesty Kravitz's bottom line in the Famous Douche Bag Case, aka Doninger v. Niehoff and Schwartz: Shut off any inquiry that gets to the heart of the issue, refuse to confront lies sworn under oath and muddy the dialogue with diversions.
He tried to clean up his act a little after a naked and craven maneuver in August 2007, when he wrote his first decision in this case long before testimony concluded. This time, Travesty Kravitz waited a couple months to release his decision ordering a trial on the suppressed and seized Free Speech / Team Avery t-shirts. Travesty Kravitz held a hearing on Nov. 12, 2008 and issued his latest decision Jan. 15, 2009.
In a manner displayed by many federal judges, Travesty Kravitz steered this case to a certain focus. Some judges do this by denying motions, telling counsel they will continue to deny all motions and then brokering an agreement, all out of the public eye. Travesty Kravitz's bias is no less apparent. He tries to bury himself in a cocoon of conflicting rulings about emerging free speech law in the internet age, but comes down firmly on the side of the government class.
Indeed, his 30-page decision issued Jan. 15, 2009 opens with a lame joke at the bottom of the first page: "The [court] assumes familiarity with the facts …" In fact, Travesty Kravitz is making a career-stalling record of running from the facts. He has failed to face the fact that no one has done more to undermine the Region 10 basic educational mission than Schwartz, Niehoff and their lemming school board members.
One of the next jokes by Travesty Kravitz comes on page four. "The [court] was willing to defer to the experience and expertise of school officials, though … [n]one of this is to say that school officials have completely unfettered discretion to disqualify students from participating in extracurricular activities."
Well, it's this way except when it's that way. A common theme.
Try reading the judge's handbook. Unfreeze the lame brain. Get some backbone and integrity and make a real decision.
As has been noted, the only school disruption in this case was caused by the school bosses. Still, Travesty Kravitz lamely pulls out the one-liner from the Second Circuit, in an improper context: "The question is not whether there has been actual disruption, but whether school officials might reasonably portend disruption from the student expression at issue."
Try another mushroom. The White Rabbit says hello.
Travesty Kravitz assumes competence and forthrightness on the part of school administrators. Travesty Kravitz's assertions in this regard might be more credible if the famous feces-throwing monkey had served as superintendent or principal at Region 10's Lewis Mills High School
In fairness, Travesty Kravitz did have a few moments in which he approached a level of clarity, for a judge, anyhow:
1. - "The [court] agrees with Ms. Doninger that there is evidence in the record - particularly when viewed in the light most favorable to her - that suggests that Ms. Niehoff may have punished Ms. Doninger because the blog entry was offensive and uncivil and not because of any potential disruption at school." Page 11.
2. - "The timing of Ms. Doninger's punishment in this case, together with Ms. Niehoff's testimony, creates a disputed issue of material fact as to the [defendant's] true motivation for punishing Ms. Doninger." Page 12.
3. - "It is at least arguable that Ms. Doninger's speech was chilled … " Page 23.
Travesty Kravitz was forced to order a trial on the suppression of the Free Speech / Team Avery t-shirts only because so much material had been put on the record.
His record in this case demands vigilant monitoring by the press, the bar association and law students. Finally, our U.S. Senators, current and future, should be more careful about whom they recommend for appointment or promotion.
Nov. 13, 2008 Stories In Wtby Rep-Am, NH Reg
Free-speech case back in court
Region 10 student requests trial by jury
BY JIM MOORE
NEW HAVEN - The words "douche bag," "pissed off," and "dirty whore" echoed in the courtroom of U.S. District Court Judge Mark R. Kravitz Wednesday.
"It's back," Kravitz said of Avery Doninger's First Amendment case against Region 10.
Doninger is seeking a jury trial.
School administrators blocked her bid for re-electionas class secretary in 2007 after she called administrators "douche bags" on her blog. An online reply from another student referred to Superintendent Paula Schwartz, who has since retired, as a "dirty whore."
Kravitz questioned attorneys from both sides for 2 ½ Wednesday, and gave no indication when he would issue a ruling. The question at hand is whether Kravitz will order a jury trial.
The judge in 2007 denied Doninger's bid for an injunctionreversing the punishment, and the U.S. 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals upheld that ruling May 29.
The case raises questions about legal limits on free speech by students beyond school grounds. Doninger used her home computer to type the missive that unleashed the court battle.
Kravitz noted that four judges, including himself, concluded administrators were within their rights to
discipline Doninger, and predicted the case would return to appellate court regardless of whether he feels there should be a trial. " It doesn't matter at all what the judges think," Kravitz said." That's apparently not going to be acceptable to Ms. Doninger and her lawyer. They want a jury to say that. Why not let it go to trial? The jury might actually find there was no First Amendment violation."
Kravitz challenged Region 10 attorney Thomas R. Gerarde to cite a precedent that clearly limits the ability of school officials to block Doninger and other students from wearing " Team Avery" tshirts in the 2007 school election assembly, another element in Doninger's case. Gerarde vowed to cite such cases in forthcoming papers, and argued against a trial he said would be "a tremendous undertaking."
Lauren Doninger, Avery'smother, said attorney Jon L. Schoenhorn has charged her only a small retainer and fees.
"I'm relying on winning this case" to collect monetary damages and payment for Schoenhorn, whom she called a "First Amendment warrior."
Schoenhorn vowed, "One way or another, there has to be a trial."
Avery Doninger, 18, graduated from Region 10 in June 2008 and was not present in court Wednesday.
Her mother said she is working on hurricane relief in Texas.
Discipline over blog focus of court case
By Randall Beach, Register Staff
NEW HAVEN - Attorneys squared off in federal court Wednesday, exchanging legal arguments for more than two hours over a First Amendment question on whether a high school student should have been disciplined by school officials for calling school administrators "douche bags" on her blog.
While listening to both sides, U.S. District Judge Mark Kravitz remarked that blogs, Facebook and e-mails are "this explosion of technology" causing courts to struggle with new free speech questions.
The controversy, which erupted in April 2007, centers around Avery Doninger, who was then a senior at Lewis S. Mills High School in Burlington.
Doninger, now 18, has since graduated and is in Texas, doing volunteer disaster relief work for AmeriCorps, assisting victims of Hurricane Ike.
But her mother, Lauren Doninger, attended Wednesday's hearing and said afterward she was "anxious for a trial" so her daughter can prove her constitutional rights were violated.
She charged school administrators with "a monumental failure of leadership."
But the Doningers so far have had two court rulings against them.
Kravitz, who did not issue a decision Wednesday, last year denied a motion for a preliminary injunction (immediate relief). His ruling, which ended Doninger's effort to serve as class secretary, was upheld by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in New York.
The circuit court ruled it was proper for school officials to punish Doninger because her blog post "created a foreseeable risk of substantial disruption."
Jon Schoenhorn, Doninger's attorney, is now seeking a ruling allowing a trial on First Amendment grounds.
Thomas Girard, the Burlington school system's attorney, seeks a summary judgment ruling that there is no legal basis for a trial.
He maintains school administrators acted properly when they disciplined Doninger by denying her the right to run as class secretary.
Kravitz noted during Wednesday's hearing, "She was not removed from school." He said not allowing her to run for office was "rather mild."
But Lauren Doninger said afterward that her daughter being class secretary "was her varsity sport. This was what she cared about."
Doninger was among students who lobbied the community for support of a battle of the bands. When the student council adviser suggested they reach out to taxpayers and residents called Superintendent of Schools Paula Schwartz, she declined to let it be held as planned.
Doninger then referred in her blog to school administrators as "central office douche bags," a posting found by Schwartz' son a few weeks later while he was trolling the Internet for his mother.
In another free speech dust-up, the high school's principal, Karissa Niehoff, confiscated a T-shirt and banned other shirts. Doninger had brought shirts reading "R.I.P. Democracy" and "Team Avery" to the school on the day of an assembly on the student election.
During discussion of the phrase "douche bag," Schoenhorn said, "It's an admittedly rude term. To some people, it may be offensive."
But he added, "Since this case began, there have been about 500 cases where I've heard it on TV and radio."
Kravitz chimed in, "I may have been called it!"
Schoenhorn said a blog is a journal, similar to a diary. "People have to access her site to read what she said. You (Kravitz) and the Second Circuit suggested this blog was intended to go to the campus; that's not electronically correct."
But Kravitz interjected, "It was open to the public because she wanted people to read it. It was directed to her classmates and parents."