HARTFORD, Conn. (CN) – A man given prison time for threatening the judge in his divorce case failed to persuade the Connecticut Supreme Court on Wednesday that his unsettling emails were constitutionally protected speech.
Among other menacing statements in his 2014 emails, Edward Taupier counted the steps between a cemetery and the Watertown bedroom of Judge Elizabeth Bozzuto.
“When they figure out they are not protected from bad things and their families are taken from them in the same way they took yours then the system will change,” Taupier wrote in another email.
“[Second] amendment rights are around to keep a police state from violating my [family’s] rights,” the message continued.
Taupier had not sent either email to the judge herself, directing them instead to a group he described as “friends and fellow travelers” — individuals with whom he had been communicating his frustrations with Connecticut’s family court system.
The emails alarmed at least two of the recipients. While one told Taupier explicitly not to send him further such communications, another sought guidance from a lawyer-friend who in turn passed the information on to state police and the judicial branch.
Police ultimately seized 15 firearms and multiple rounds of ammunition from Taupier’s residence upon executing a warrant — this despite the fact that the family court barred Taupier a year earlier from possessing any firearms.
In his first email, Taupier noted that the cemetery outside Bozzuto’s house provided ideal “cover and concealment” to fire at her bedroom, which he specified was 245 yards away. Investigators later determined that four of the guns seized from Taupier were capable of accurately firing at that distance.
Bozzuto testified at Taupier’s ensuing trial that she took the threats seriously, providing a mug shot of Taupier to her children’s school and outfitting her house with new security features including cameras and lights.
“Every night when I [got] home … as soon as … I pull[ed] up to the driveway and pull[ed] in … every time I [got] out of that car I look[ed] up on the hill in the back where all the brush and trees are and [thought] of only [the defendant],” Bozzuto testified, as recounted in the Ruling. “Those bumps in the night, it’s when the dogs start[ed] barking in the middle of the night and the first thing that [came] to my mind [was the defendant].’’
The Connecticut Supreme Court determined Wednesday that Taupier was properly convicted.
“Judge Bozzuto’s fearful reaction and the steps that she took to protect herself and her family from the defendant, including installing security equipment and warning her niece not to go to her house without a police escort, show that she believed the defendant’s threats were serious,” Chief Justice Richard Robinson wrote for the unanimous bench.
Norm Pattis, an attorney for Taupier who argued that a higher standard applies since Bozzuto is a public official, echoed this position in response to the ruling.
“If you can’t take the heat, don’t wear the robe,” Pattis tweeted Wednesday.
In a phone interview, Pattis noted that he plans to take Taupier’s appeal next to the U.S. Supreme Court, and that several law clinics and attorneys from across the country have contacted him in the last day about his case — something he believes bodes well for his chances.
The U.S. Supreme Court takes up just 1 percent of the cases it receives by petition.
Taupier was sentenced to 18 months in prison in 2015 after he was found guilty of first-degree threatening, two counts of disorderly conduct and second-degree breach of peace.
A judicial branch spokeswoman said Bozzuto would decline to comment on the ruling.