Man Accused of Threatening Judge in Song Lands 18 Months in Prison

Melissa Knowles
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It's not shocking anymore to hear horror stories about people getting into trouble online using social media. A Tennessee man might have made one of the worst Internet gaffes we've seen in a long time, when he uploaded a video to YouTube of a song that prosecutors say threatened a judge.

In 2010, Franklin Delano Jeffries Jr., a 38-year-old Army veteran, uploaded "Daughter's Love," a song he'd written about loving his daughter and about his frustration over the custody battle with his daughter's mother. In the song, Jeffries claims that the mother of his daughter is abusive toward her. The song, which runs nearly 6 minutes, sounds more like repeated threats against Knox County Chancellor Mike Moyers, the judge overseeing the custody battle, than a plea for help. Here's an excerpt:

"I don't care if I go to jail for 2,000 years, because this is my daughter we're talking about. I'm not kidding at all. I'm making this video public. ... Cause if I have to kill a judge or a lawyer or a woman, I don't care. I'm getting tired of the abuse and the parent alienation. ... Take my child, and I'll take your life."

After he finishes singing, Jeffries goes on a rant about equal visitation rights for parents. He says, "You don't deserve to be a judge, and you don't deserve to live ... in my book. And you're going to get some crazy guy like me after your ass."

When prosecutors were made aware of the video, Jeffries was quickly charged and convicted of the federal crime of communicating threats and was sentenced to 18 months in jail. Earlier this week, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit in Cincinnati upheld the conviction. Mike Harrell, a lawyer for Jeffries, says he believes his client was just venting his frustration, albeit with misguided humor, and he will fight the conviction.

The appeals court disagrees, saying the statute covered any threat whether it was made in person or through technology -- new or old.