Judge: FBI Had No Grounds to Detain Ex-Marine

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Circuit Court Judge Allan Sharrett has ruled the FBI had no grounds to detain a former Marine for concerning Facebook posts.

In an unexpected ruling Thursday, Sharrett said an involuntary commitment order against 26-year-old Brandon Raub was invalid.

The judge said the order "is so devoid of any factual allegations that it could not be reasonably expected to give rise to a case," according to Raub's lawyer, Rutherford Institute executive director John Whitehead.

Last week in Chesterfield County, Va., police and federal agents took Raub into custody after receiving complaints about his Facebook posts.

Click play to watch Heather Sells' updated report followed by analysis from Brad Jacob, with the Regent University School of Law, on the debate over free speech and concerns for public safety.

Raub, who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, regularly writes about his deep suspicion of the government. In August he wrote, "The revolution is here and I will lead it."

He also posted, "Sharpen my axe: I'm here to sever heads" and "I am standing against a great evil. I will do it all by myself if I have to."

In the wake of this summer's mass shootings in Colorado and Wisconsin, the public is perhaps more aware than ever of just what can happen when no one intervenes in the life of someone who's troubled.

That's why law enforcement and mental health providers have the authority to briefly detain a person they suspect may harm themselves or others. 

Clinical psychologist and Regent University assistant professor Linda Baum said after the Virginia Tech shooting in 2007, the state strengthened the guidance used by mental health providers to detain someone for an evaluation.

Still, she said it's tough for clinicians to make the right call.

"We continue to have these situations where we see people getting needlessly injured [and] killed," she said. "But at the same time we can't just hospitalize everybody who might be a danger to somebody at some time."

Whitehead said  Sharrett's ruling is a victory for First Amendment rights.

"People have a right to go on Facebook or the Internet [and] say things that people might not agree with," he said. "But that doesn't mean they're crazy or should be incarcerated for it."

Earlier in the week, CBN News spoke with Raub's mother, Cathleen Thomas, who defended her son.

"He's always been a very positive, upbeat young man," she said. "He just speaks the truth and I think some of the truth that is being spoken the government is questioning."
Authorities initially took Raub to the John Randolph Medical Center in Hopewell, Va., where he was held over the weekend for a preliminary evaluation.

After a hearing on Monday, another judge ordered Raub to be detained for another month and transferred him to a hospital in Salem, Va.

Thursday's hearing was expected to be limited to Raub's objection to the transfer so Whitehead said Sharrett's decision was a surprise.

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CBN News
Heather Sells

Heather Sells

CBN News Reporter

Heather Sells covers a variety of issues for CBN News ranging from immigration and religious liberty to human trafficking, privacy issues and food.

Follow Heather on Twitter @SellsHeather and "like" her at Facebook.com/HeatherSellsCBNNews.