Michigan Man Arraigned in Politically-Motivated “Terrorist Threat” Case

(Pontiac, Michigan) – On April 4, 2024, Andrew Hess was arraigned in the 50th District Court in Pontiac, Michigan on the charge of “making a terrorist threat,” which is a felony offense that carries a maximum penalty of 20 years confinement and a $20,000 fine.

Hess, who is represented by Robert Muise of the American Freedom Law Center, voluntarily surrendered himself to the warrant that was issued, and he entered a plea of “not guilty” during his arraignment.  Hess was released on a personal recognizance bond.

The felony charge was brought by the Oakland County Prosecutor.

During a contentious ballot recount in Oakland County last December where allegations of election improprieties were ignored by Oakland County election officials, Hess walked outside of the recount room and allegedly made the statement, “hang Joe for treason,” allegedly referring to Joe Rozell, the director of elections in Oakland County, according to the prosecutor’s office.

Following this alleged “threat,” Hess returned to the recount room and had multiple interactions with Rozell and other election officials without incident.  Deputies from the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office were present, and even after speaking with Hess about the alleged comment, took no action against Hess whatsoever and allowed him to return to the recount room.

While this alleged “terrorist threat” took place in December 2023, the Oakland County Prosecutor waited until April 1, 2024, to file a criminal complaint, which itself demonstrates that the alleged safety concerns are bogus and that politics are driving this prosecution.

Attorney Muise commented:

“There was no ‘terrorist threat’ made by Hess in December 2023.  The only true ‘threat’ in this case is the threat politically-motivated prosecutions like this have on the First Amendment rights of private citizens to criticize government officials.  This weaponization of government is, in fact, a direct threat to our constitutional republic.

The U.S. Supreme Court has long held that speech concerning public affairs is more than self-expression; it is the essence of self-government.  In New York Times v. Sullivan, the Supreme Court famously stated that as a constitutional republic, we have a ‘profound national commitment to the principle that debate on public issues should be uninhibited, robust, and wide-open, and that it may well include vehement, caustic, and sometimes unpleasantly sharp attacks on government and public officials.’  This prosecution is an affront to this ‘national commitment.’

Democrats and their government operatives are engaging in this form of lawfare nationwide in their attacks against former President Trump.  And we are witnessing the same here locally in this criminal charge against Hess.  These politically-motivated prosecutors know full well that process is punishment.  They accomplish their aim of suppressing public dissent by simply filing the charges.

Unfortunately, Hess is not the only one on trial here.  The First Amendment rights of all public citizens are being punished through this prosecution.  The courts have long held that it is always in the public interest to prevent the violation of a party’s constitutional rights and that the public as a whole has a significant interest in ensuring protection of First Amendment liberties.

Make no mistake, we will fight this politically-motivated charge all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court if necessary, as the threat to our constitutional republic is too great to allow such abuse of our criminal law by government officials.  We will never surrender our First Amendment rights to government tyrants.  Never!”

The American Freedom Law Center (AFLC), a nonprofit public interest law firm, is representing Mr. Hess pro bono.  If you would like to support this case or any of the other important AFLC cases, you can make an online donation here.  AFLC is recognized by the IRS as a 501(c)(3) organization; donations are tax-deductible to the full extent of the law.