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Court upholds order against harassing abortion volunteer (UPDATE)

Associated Press

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — A Milwaukee judge properly issued a restraining order against an activist accused of harassing an abortion clinic volunteer, a state appeals court ruled Tuesday.

The 1st District Court of Appeals rejected Daniel Joseph Miller’s arguments that the evidence doesn’t support the order and refused to address his contentions that the injunction violated his free speech rights.

According to court documents, Miller is a member of Pro-Life Wisconsin’s board and advises women walking into Affiliated Medical Services’ Milwaukee abortion clinic about their options. Alan Keltner volunteers at the clinic, escorting women from the sidewalk into the facility and back to their cars after their appointments.

Keltner sought a restraining order against Miller in December 2013, alleging that Miller had been harassing him by sending an email to supporters calling Keltner vile, sadistic and disgusting; giving them Keltner’s home address; showing up at his home twice; videotaping Keltner; and pushing Keltner twice.

Milwaukee County Circuit Judge William Sosnay granted the order after listening to two days of testimony. The order, which was good for four years, mandates Miller avoid all contact with Keltner and stay away from his house and any place where Keltner volunteers while he’s there.

Miller argued on appeal that Sosnay’s decision was clearly wrong because Keltner failed to prove that Miller ever pushed him. Even if the incidents occurred, they were minor and Keltner wasn’t hurt, Miller maintained.

He went on to contend that the rest of his behavior was harmless and that the restraining order violates his free speech rights. He insisted that Kelter was seeking the order not to protect himself, but to censor him.

The appellate court ruled that the judge properly exercised his discretion in issuing the order. He was within his rights when he decided that Keltner’s version of the pushing incidents was more credible and when he found that Miller had engaged in harassment in the hopes of intimidating Keltner.

The court refused to consider Miller’s free speech arguments, noting that he failed to bring them up to the judge.

Miller’s attorney, Dudley Williams, didn’t immediately respond to a telephone message seeking comment.

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