DENVER (CBS4) – The Denver District Attorney’s Office has charged Eric Brandt with a felony of retaliation against a judge after he allegedly made several videos threatening a specific Denver County Court judge, and called the judge’s office saying he thought the judge should be murdered in front of his children, according to documents and recordings obtained by CBS4. Brandt was arrested for the charges last week in Lakewood.
Brandt is an activist who has made more general threats against judges in the past, advocating for people to “shoot random judges” in a video he posted a few months ago. However, this is the first time Brandt has been arrested for retaliation against a judge.
In the arrest affidavit, the D.A.’s office said Brandt made the threatening phone call on Dec. 18, 2019.
CBS4 obtained a copy of that purported phone call, where Brandt is heard calling a judge’s courtroom office, and telling the employee there that he would like to “offer his thoughts and prayers” for the judge.
“It is my thought that (the judge) should be violently murdered, and have his brains splattered all over the faces of his children, and it’s my prayer that some mother f***** actually does it,” Brandt is heard saying.
The arrest affidavit also said Brandt threatened a specific judge – the name of whom was redacted – in a YouTube video he made saying the judge “looked best hanging from a tree.” The affidavit said Brandt made that video in response to one of his fellow members of Occupy Denver, an anti-government activist group, being sentenced to 30 days in jail for contempt of court.
Brandt’s YouTube page is no longer visible online.
The affidavit said the judge felt threatened and harassed by the comments, causing him to ask for Denver Police to patrol around his home as an extra security precaution.
Steve Zansberg, an attorney specializing in First Amendment law, said Brandt could face up to eight years in prison.
“The jury, in this case, will have to determine if his speech, the combination of statements… he made, and whether or not they constitute a true threat, which is not protected by the first amendment,” Zansberg said.
Zansberg also explained charges like this are rare.
“For people to be prosecuted for their speech and speech alone is an extremely rare occurrence and we should be thankful for that, and even when that does occur, there is a valid defense the speech is not within those categories of unprotected speech,” Zansberg said. “So, that will be, I presume, because Mr. Brandt has a history of making outrageous comments and going right up to the line, and the question here is whether or not he crossed that line.”
Brandt had a $10,000 bond. A PayPal account to raise money to help him bail out was set up, and at last check, more than $10,000 was raised. Brandt is no longer listed in jail records as a booked inmate.
Click here to read the arrest affidavit in full.
CBS4 has reached out to the Denver District Attorney’s Office for further comment, but was asked to refer to the affidavit. Brandt has told CBS4 he is working on sending a written statement to CBS4 about his alleged actions.
Brandt is scheduled to appear in court on Jan. 23 at 9:30 a.m.