In Memoriam, Kurt Wimmer

One of the most important contributors to this blog will be laid to rest this morning, and I am absolutely gutted.

For more than one decade, Kurt Wimmer was this blog and this blogger’s First Amendment defender and counsel. It was only with Kurt’s pro bono help and that of Jason Criss, and their colleagues at Covington & Burling that I have been able to stand up for press freedom against the many intimidation attempts and legal threats DataBreaches.net experiences on an all-too-frequent basis.

Some of the legal threats and issues have been mentioned on this blog and PogoWasRight.org in the past. Most have not been. I would just contact Kurt to ask him how I might respond to threat letters and he and I would work it out, but always with the understanding that this site would never cave in to bullies or attempts to chill protected speech. Kurt’s protection of the First Amendment and rights of journalists was unwavering, in one case extending to them contacting the Attorney General to make sure that my rights as a journalist would be protected in a particular case where it seemed possible that the government was about to try to seize my files and devices.

At other times, Kurt and I would discuss what my ethical or legal obligations were when complaints or demands were received from entities in other countries. And when I was actually charged criminally and sued civilly in another country where Covington & Burling were prohibited from representing me, Kurt still found a way to reach out and make the situation go away by explaining to lawyers in that country how our press freedoms work.

But as much as I will miss Kurt as a lawyer, I will miss him as much as a friend. No matter how much time we might spend talking about the predicaments this site would wind up in, we always managed to talk about our families. Kurt’s children are younger than mine, but as a parent, I cannot think of any other parent who never had a critical word to say about any of their children. Not one. Kurt simply adored his wife and children. And I know how much he hoped to one day be a grandfather. He would have been a great one.

Kurt’s family and friends, his colleagues at Covington & Burling, the people in his community, and the entire privacy community have suffered a great loss when Kurt lost his battle with cancer. But I like to think that heaven is welcoming the gentle soul and incredibly kind person who we all knew and treasured.

May he rest in peace.

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