No Contempt for Infomercial Pitchman

June 2, 2010


When the ‘infomercial king’ Kevin Trudeau asked his radio listeners and online followers to email the judge on his behalf, it flooded the judge’s inbox. The judge found him in criminal contempt and sentenced him to 30 days in prison.

The 7th Circuit ruled (2010 WL 1994593, docket # 10-1383)  that this invasion into the ‘virtual courtroom’ was not sufficient to meet the in the ‘presence’ requirement for summary criminal contempt (Fed Crim. Pro. Rule 42(b)).  While the court left open the possibility of the judge referring the matter to prosecutor, for now at least, Trudeau will not have to go directly to jail for spamming the judge.

At least he did not use Google Maps in the commission of a crime in Louisiana, where a bill recently passed by the legislature adds an extra year to a sentence “When an Internet, virtual, street-level map is used in the commission of a criminal offense.”