Max Karson jailed, released on his own recognizance
Max Karson, known for his contentious underground publication “The Yeti,” was arraigned Wednesday in Boulder County Court for comments perceived as threatening in one of his classes Tuesday.
According to witness reports, Karson, a psychology major, allegedly said there were aspects of CU that “made him angry enough to kill people” and expressed sympathetic views toward the Virginia Tech University assailant during a class discussion. The discussion centered around the slaying of more than 30 students by Virginia Tech student Cho Seung Hui.
Karson was booked on charges of interference with faculty, staff and students of an education institution, a misdemeanor, after several students reported the comments to police. Karson has been suspended from CU.
“If a major university means anything, it means the free exchange of ideas,” said Karson’s father, Michael Karson. “Max was arrested for making intellectual comments to an academic discussion. I don’t think you should be able to arrest a kid for expressing his views.”
Michael Karson sat upright and eagerly peered across the courtroom to pick out his son as the defendants filed in and awaited arraignment. Flanked by detainees facing charges of third-degree assault and second-degree kidnapping, Max Karson was uncharacteristically subdued.
Karson’s attorney, Dan Williams, citing Max’s lack of criminal history, requested a co-signed personal recognizance bond. This means a dollar amount would be assigned to Karson’s bond, but his father needs to sign the bond and promise to appear at future court dates. Should Max Karson fail to appear in court, his father would be responsible for the bond.
“Max has been an outspoken critic of CU, including the chancellor. There is no question that he is someone who is going to stick out,” Williams said.
The prosecuting attorney countered with a surety bond request, meaning Karson’s family would need to contact a professional bondsman to post the bond upfront. The prosecutor cited the violent comments Karson made to his classmates as reasoning for the harsher measure.
“Max Karson made his classmates feel like he was angry enough to cause them harm,” the prosecutor said.
The judge denied the surety bond request and set the bond at $1,000.
“If (Michael Karson) wants to risk his funds for his son, he can do that,” he said.
Taking time to address Max Karson directly, the judge stipulated the terms of his bond meant Karson could not drink liquor or possess a weapon, must undergo pre-trial supervision and could have no contact with the CU campus.
This move upheld the suspension and prohibition on school property levied on Max Karson by university officials pending a review of his arrest by the school’s Judicial Affairs Department.
The judge gave Max Karson a final warning to “not test him” on the restrictions of his bond as they were “not areas to push envelopes.” Karson remained mostly silent through the proceedings, answering only “yes” and “I understand” when questioned by the judge.
Although it would be another hour before Max was released on bond, Michael Karson was smiling as he walked out of the courtroom following the judge’s ruling. Michael Karson continued to defend his son’s comments and said Max was only trying to remind his classmates not to dehumanize the shooter at Virginia Tech.
He also maintained that despite his arrest, he believes that Max would continue to publish The Yeti.
“It’s obvious to me that he was arrested for his underground publication, but if Max stopped writing The Yeti at this point, he would be giving up on the Bill of Rights,” Michael Karson said.
On hand at the proceedings to show support were three of Max Karson’s friends, including freshman Andrea Pauline, a business major.
“Max brings up controversial issues people don’t want to talk about. It is absurd to me that anyone would see him as a threat,” Pauline said.
Contact Campus Press staff writer Cassie Hewlings at firstname.lastname@example.org.