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Pro Se Filer Found Guilty for Threatening Judge

BROOKLYN, N.Y. (CN) - A frequent pro se filer was convicted of threatening to kill the federal judge who dismissed one of her 80 suits.

Regina Lewis made the threats against U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan after the Manhattan federal judge tossed her complaint against a Nissan car dealership in 2012, according to the ruling published Tuesday.

When Kaplan's clerk answered a call at the judge's chambers from Lewis on July 10 that year, the aggrieved plaintiff said she had a "fucking bullet with his name on it."

Lewis also called that court's pro se office and told the clerk that Kaplan was "white trash" and a homosexual for tossing her case. She boasted that she was willing to "go down in history" for killing a federal judge.

The U.S. government's case against her played out in a Brooklyn bench trial before U.S. District Judge Brian Cogan last week. It was transferred out of Manhattan to give Lewis a fair trial.

Lewis was even given a second chance to take the stand to defend herself against testimony by mental health experts that she was bipolar.

Cogan said Tuesday that, while Lewis did not actually intend to harm Kaplan or court personnel, he found that she "wanted to intimidate Judge Kaplan and the court personnel into thinking that she might well inflict such harm."

"There is no doubt that defendant was in a highly agitated state when she made the threats," the six-page opinion states. "Nevertheless, she had the specific intent to intimidate Judge Kaplan and the court personnel when she made these statements."

Whether Kaplan was actually intimidated by the threats is irrelevant, Cogan said, adding that "an objectively reasonable person would have been."

"The language defendant used, particularly her references to a 'bullet with his name on it,' 'going down in history for killing a federal judge,' and 'killing a federal judge and some clerks' to bring attention to her case, would have caused alarm to a reasonable judge," the ruling continues.

Defense attorney Lloyd Epstein had told the court that Lewis was bipolar, but the government's mental-health expert disagreed, claiming she had a severe personal disorder.

The conflicting diagnoses didn't matter to Cogan.

"That does not mean she lacked the specific intent to intimidate Judge Kaplan," Cogan wrote. "It just means that she expressed it when a healthy person might have had the self-control to suppress it."

Lewis was arrested at her home on July 26 by a group of U.S. marshals, one of whom told the court about finding Lewis hiding between a couch and a wall.

Lewis will be sentenced Jan. 28, 2015.

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