Yesterday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit in Cincinnati upheld the conviction of a divorced Tennessee dad with the unlikely name of Franklin Delano Jeffries II who, in the midst of a custody battle, decided to post a YouTube video of himself singing a song with the sweet title “Daughter’s Love.”
The problem was that only a small portion of the song was actually about daughters and love; the rest was about Mr. Jeffries’ apparent desire to kill the judge overseeing the custody hearings, and possibly others.
As the appeals court judge put it:
The song contains sweet passages about relationships between fathers and daughters and the importance of spending time together. The rest boils into an assortment of the banal (complaints about his ex-wife), the ranting (gripes about lawyers and the legal system) and the menacing (threats to kill the judge if he doesn’t “do the right thing” at an upcoming custody hearing). Jeffries set the words to music and created a video of himself performing the song on a guitar painted with an American flag on it. The style is part country, part rap, sometimes on key, and surely therapeutic.
Here are the song’s opening verses:
I’ve had enough of this abuse from you.
It has been goin’ on for 13 years.
I have been to war and killed a man.
I don’t care if I go to jail for 2,000 years.
’Cause this is my daughter we’re talkin’ about,
And when I come to court this better be the last time.
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.
One of Jeffries’ lawyers told the Wall Street Journal that this was all a misunderstood attempt at humor and that his client “never dreamed this message would get back to the judge,” a fact seemingly belied by that whole “I’m not kidding at all” line and the bit that followed about making the video public.
He followed this threat with a brief tribute to his daughter:
I love you; daughters are the beautiful things in my life.
It keeps me going and keeps me alive everyday.
And then it was back to threats (I’ve put the direct threats in bold):
I’m not kidding, judge, you better listen to me.
I killed a man downrange in war.
I have nothing against you, but I’m tellin’ you this better be the last court date. …
So I promise you, judge, I will kill a man.
This time better be the last time I end up in court …
And this s___ needs to stop because you’re gonna lose your job.
And I guarantee you, if you don’t stop, I’ll kill you.
’Cause I am gonna make a point either way you look at it somebody’s gotta pay,
And I’m telling you right now live on the Internet.
So put me in jail and make a big scene. …
So I’m gonna f___ somebody up, and I’m going back to war in my head.
So July the 14th is the last time I’m goin’ to court.
Believe that. Believe that, or I’ll come after you after court. Believe that.
I love my daughter.
Nobody’s going take her away from me.
’Cause I got four years left to make her into an adult.
I got four years left until she’s eighteen.
So stop this s___ because I’m getting tired of you,
And I don’t care if everybody sees this Internet site
Because it is the truth and it’s war. …
If fathers don’t have rights or women don’t have their rights or equal visitation,
Get their ass out of office.
’Cause you don’t deserve to be a judge and you don’t deserve to live.
You don’t deserve to live in my book.
And you’re gonna get some crazy guy like me after your ass.
And I hope I encourage other dads to go out there and put bombs in their goddamn cars.
Blow ’em up …
There went your f___in’ car. I can shoot you. I can kill you. I can
f___ you. Be my friend. Do something right. Serve my daughter.
Well, prosecutors took him up on that offer to “put [him] in jail,” and a jury agreed; Jeffries was sentenced to 18 months for his threats. And now the conviction has been upheld in Circuit Court.
You can read rest of the lyrics and the judge’s opinion here. (It’s in pdf form.)