CHESTERFIELD, VA— Attorneys for The Rutherford Institute have filed a Notice of Appeal in the General District Court of the City of Hopewell, Virginia, in the case of a former Marine, Brandon Raub, who was arrested by local police and FBI agents and is being detained in a psychiatric ward and forced to undergo psychological evaluations based solely on the controversial nature of lines from song lyrics, political messages and virtual card games which he posted to his private Facebook page. Rutherford Institute attorneys are challenging the actions of Chesterfield County, Va. as procedurally improper, legally unjustified, and in violation of Raub’s First Amendment rights. Raub was arrested on Thursday, August 16, 2012, and transported to John Randolph Medical Center, where he was held against his will due to alleged concerns that his Facebook posts were “terrorist in nature.”
In a hearing on Aug. 20, government officials disregarded Raub’s explanation that the Facebook posts were being interpreted out of context, sentencing him to up to 30 days’ further confinement in a Veterans Administration psychiatric ward. On Aug. 21, Special Justice Walter Douglass Stokes refused to entertain an emergency motion to stop Raub from being forcibly transferred to a psychiatric facility in Salem, Va., more than three hours away from his family and legal defense team. Institute attorneys have filed a motion in Circuit Court to transfer Raub back to John Randolph Medical Center so that he may fully participate in his own defense. A hearing is scheduled to take place before Circuit Court judge Allan Sharrett on Thurs., Aug. 23, at 11:30 am, EST.
“As we are learning, what is happening to Brandon Raub—arrested with no warning, targeted for doing nothing more than speaking out against the government, detained against his will, and isolated from his family, friends and attorneys—has happened many times before. These are the kinds of things that take place in totalitarian societies,” said John W. Whitehead, president of The Rutherford Institute. “Any American who claims to love their country—no matter what their political leanings are—should be outraged and alarmed over the abuses being meted out by government officials and tolerated by the courts.”
Brandon Raub, a former Marine who has served tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, was detained by FBI agents and police officers at his home in Chesterfield County based upon the nature of content posted to his Facebook page in recent months. Like many Facebook users, Raub uses his Facebook page to post song lyrics and air his political opinions, as well as engage in virtual online games with other users. On Thursday, August 16, police and FBI agents arrived at Raub’s home, asking to speak with him about his Facebook posts. They did not provide Raub with a search warrant. Raub was cooperative and agreed to speak with them. Without providing any explanation, levying any charges against Raub or reading him his rights, law enforcement officials then handcuffed Raub and transported him first to the police headquarters, then to John Randolph Medical Center, where he has been held against his will. Outraged onlookers filmed the arrest and posted the footage to YouTube.
In a hearing before Special Justice Walter Douglass Stokes on August 20, government officials again pointed to Raub’s Facebook posts as the sole reason for their concern and for his continued incarceration. Ignoring Raub’s explanations about the fact that the FB posts were being read out of context and his attorney’s First Amendment defense, Stokes sentenced the former Marine to up to 30 days’ further confinement in a psychiatric ward and signed a court order for Raub’s involuntary admission to the Veterans Hospital in Salem. Anthony Troy and Brian Fowler, attorneys with Troutman Sanders LLP, are assisting The Rutherford Institute in Raub’s defense.