Silencing the First Amendment
April 09, 2004
Frightening Unconstitutional precedents are being set across the country. These blatant violations of individuals' First Amendment rights occur on a daily basis, only to be followed by escalated abuses. This is a premeditated pattern.
Marshal Defends Erasure of Scalia Speech
By HOLBROOK MOHR, Associated Press Writer
JACKSON, Miss. - The U.S. marshal on Friday defended the erasure of two journalists' recordings of a speech by Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia ( news - web sites ) but suggested that Scalia's request that his remarks not be recorded should have been publicly announced.
During Scalia's speech Wednesday in Hattiesburg about the Constitution, a woman who identified herself as Deputy Marshal Melanie Rube demanded that a reporter for The Associated Press erase a digital recording of the justice's comments.
The reporter, Denise Grones, initially resisted, but later showed the deputy how to erase the recording after the officer took the device from her. Rube also made a Hattiesburg American reporter erase her tape.
The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press said Thursday that the deputy violated the law and "the fundamental tenets of press freedom."
But Rube's boss, Nehemiah Flowers, the U.S. marshal for the Southern District of Mississippi, defended the deputy's actions, saying Friday that one of the service's responsibilities is to provide a traveling Supreme Court justice with security.
"The justice informed us he did not want any recordings of his speech and remarks and when we discovered that one, or possibly two, reporters were in fact recording, she took action," Flowers told The Associated Press.
"Even with hindsight, I can't think of what other steps she could have done," Flowers said.
Scalia spoke Wednesday at Presbyterian Christian High School and at William Carey College. He did not warn the high school audience that recording devices would be forbidden, but issued a warning before the college speech.
Flowers said the fact no announcement was made at the high school regarding Scalia's wishes, "could have possibly been a faux pax on our behalf."
"It would have been handled, on hindsight, a little bit different," he said.
In a letter to Flowers and to U.S. Marshals Service Director Benigno G. Reyna and Attorney General John Ashcroft ( news - web sites ), the reporters group said the deputy violated the Privacy Protection Act. The act says government officers may not seize journalists' materials.
"It is clear that the statute's purpose is to provide maximum protection for the news media against seizures of work product," the group said in a letter signed by Committee Executive Director Lucy Dalglish and two other staffers.
Justice Department ( news - web sites ) employees should receive approval from the attorney general before ordering a journalist to turn over work materials, the letter said. Because the marshal failed to do so, her actions should lead to a reprimand or other disciplinary action, according to the letter.
A spokeswoman for the Supreme Court said it is up to Scalia and his staff to set guidelines for coverage of his events. A spokesman for the Justice Department did not immediately respond to calls seeking comment Thursday.
At a reception following Scalia's speech at William Carey College, the justice told WDAM-TV reporters to leave. A member of his entourage also told newspaper photographers they could not take pictures, but a college official reversed the order after non-media guests started snapping photos.
William Carey spokeswoman Jeanna Graves later apologized to the media, saying she was "embarrassed and angry" over the incident.
Scalia tape-erase order raises First Amendment questions
By David G. Savage, Los Angeles Times, 4/9/2004
WASHINGTON -- First Amendment specialists questioned the legal basis yesterday for a deputy US marshal -- apparently acting on the orders of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia -- to confiscate and erase tape recordings made by two reporters invited to hear the justice speak at a high school gymnasium.
The specialists questioned not only Scalia's practice of barring recordings of remarks made in public, but whether the seizure may have violated a federal law intended to shield journalists from having notes or records confiscated by officials.
"I don't think any public official -- and I don't care whether you are a Supreme Court justice or the president of the United States -- has a right to speak in public, and then say you can't record what I have said," said New York University law professor Burt Neuborne, former legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union. "A marshal is there for security, not to censor what a justice has said."
Alone among the justices, Scalia bars television cameras when he speaks in public, and he usually tries to clear the room of reporters. He insists, usually in advance, that his words not be recorded.
On Wednesday afternoon, however, no warning of his rule was given to event hosts or reporters when Scalia spoke at the Presbyterian Christian High School in Hattiesburg, Miss.
"This was our first effort at having a national speaker on campus. We assumed the public and reporters would want to be here," said Barrett Mosbacker, the headmaster.
Antoinette Konz, a school reporter for the Hattiesburg American, said she received a written invitation to cover the event. "They called back to make sure we would be there Wednesday," she recalled. "And when we arrived, they gave us a place to sit in the front row."
Soon after Scalia entered the gym, a marshal told a television reporter to stop recording. The justice spoke to the assembly of students, faculty, and parents about the importance of the Constitution.
The Constitution protects the rights of all, he said, according to a reporter's account. It is a "brilliant piece of work. . . . People just don't revere it like they used to," he said. Near the end of the talk, deputy US marshal Melanie Rube, who works in the Hattiesburg area, confronted two reporters who were listening to and taping Scalia's comments.
Specialists in First Amendment law say it is generally understood that officials -- including judges -- cannot confiscate or destroy notes or records that journalists obtain in public events.
"This is a major embarrassment. And it is unsupportable as a matter of law," said University of Minnesota law professor Jane Kirtley, a press law specialist. "They could have said, `No Press Allowed.' But if they let the reporters in and there are no ground rules announced in advance, they can't then say you can't report that or you can't use that."
© Copyright 2004 Globe Newspaper Company.
Journalism Group Protests Scalia Tape Grab
April 8, 2004 11:24 PM EDT
JACKSON, Miss. - A deputy federal marshal violated the law and "the fundamental tenets of press freedom" when she ordered two reporters to erase recordings of a speech by Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, a journalists' advocacy group said Thursday.
The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press said in a letter that the marshal violated the Privacy Protection Act, which says government officers may not seize materials in the possession of people who plan to distribute them through public communication.
"It is clear that the statute's purpose is to provide maximum protection for the news media against seizures of work product," the group wrote in a letter signed by Committee Executive Director Lucy Dalglish, Legal Defense Director Gregg Leslie and Kirsten Murphy, a legal fellow.
Justice Department employees should receive approval from the attorney general before ordering a journalist to turn over work materials, the letter said. Because the marshal failed to do so, her actions should lead to a reprimand or other disciplinary action, according to the letter.
"We also urge that all such officials be reminded of the important interests at stake when dealing with the news media," the letter said.
The letter was addressed to Attorney General John Ashcroft, U.S. Marshals Service Director Benigno G. Reyna and Nehemiah Flowers, the U.S. Marshal for the Southern District of Mississippi.
During a speech Scalia gave on the Constitution in Hattiesburg on Wednesday, a woman who identified herself as Deputy Marshal Melanie Rube demanded that a reporter for The Associated Press erase a tape recording of the justice's comments.
The reporter initially resisted, but later showed the deputy how to erase the digital recording after the officer took the device from her. The marshal also made a Hattiesburg American reporter erase her tape.
"We're very upset over the forced erasure of our reporter's tape and believe that crossed the line," AP Mississippi Chief of Bureau Frank Fisher said Thursday. "We hope that this will never happen again."
Fisher added that the erasure "doesn't show a lot of respect for the First Amendment."
Scalia gave two speeches Wednesday in Hattiesburg, one at Presbyterian Christian High School and the other at William Carey College. He did not warn the audience at the high school that recording devices would be forbidden, but issued a warning before the college speech.
At a reception following Scalia's speech at William Carey, the justice told television reporters from Hattiesburg station WDAM-TV to leave. A member of his entourage also told newspaper photographers they could not take pictures, but a college official reversed the order after non-media guests started snapping photos.
William Carey spokeswoman Jeanna Graves later apologized to the media.
A spokeswoman for the Supreme Court said it is up to Scalia and his staff to set guidelines for coverage of his events.
Spokespeople for the Justice Department and Marshals Service did not immediately respond to calls seeking comment Thursday.
Man Goes to Jail for Puting a Sign in his Yard
First Amendment, Schmirst Amendment
"You can look through 'em all."
Up to his ears in legal documents, P hillip D ean is fed up with the judicial system.
"That's the kind of court system we've got in J ackson C ounty , A labama and I want everybody to know , " Dean says.
So he put a sign in his front lawn saying "Our Court System Is a Joke."
A message landing him behind bars.
" I was in a cell about four foot wide and six foot long and nothing in it but a toilet," he explains.
Arrest orders signed by J udge H aralson claim D ean to be in direct contempt of court , even though the sign is on C ounty R oad 107, not in the county courthouse.
"T he signs were so derogatory to the court they could not be ignored ," Haralson responds in a local paper.
With Dean locked up, the signs were removed.
" Before they would let me go in front of J udge H aralson , " Dean says. " They put leg shackles, they put handcuffs, they put chains from my legs up to my waist. they put a chain around my waist. they put chains from my waist up here and had my hands pulled up like this."
With an apology, Haralson released D ean after a day in jail , but the experience leaves D ean with unanswered questions.
" When it gets to where a man hadn't got any free speech in this world, what has he got?" he asks.
Answers he hopes to find with a message already back in place.
Alabama judiciary panel scolds judge who jailed man over yard signs
SKYLINE, Ala. — A man jailed for contempt for displaying yard signs critical of a Jackson County judge eventually got the signs back and was able to give the judge some advice — from a panel that investigates judges.
Circuit Judge Wallace Haralson said on March 17 that he received a letter from the state Judicial Inquiry Commission asking him "to be more judicious in the future toward arresting powers."
The letter stemmed from Haralson's order for Sheriff Mike Wells to arrest Phillip Dean of Skyline last August for yard signs criticizing the judge in a custody battle over Dean's two daughters.
One sign said: "Our court system is a joke," while others were critical of the judge for returning Dean's children to his ex-wife.
"I don't understand how the system can lock me up for a sign on my own private property," Dean told The Huntsville Times in a story yesterday.
The sign saying the "court system is a joke" remains in the yard, but several more were still put away yesterday. Dean said he planned to put the signs back in his front yard.
Dean said deputies took the signs from his property without a warrant and that he was jailed for about 12 hours after being arrested on Haralson's contempt order.
Dean said he was released and the signs were returned after his attorney told Haralson that the judge had violated Dean's free-speech rights. Dean said Haralson apologized soon after, although the judge said his comment was more like "I'm sorry I had to lock you up."
The attorney did not immediately return a phone message for comment yesterday.
Dean complained to the state Judicial Inquiry Commission about Haralson in December. Haralson said he received the letter from the JIC in February asking him to be more judicious about ordering arrests.
Haralson said the commission took no other action and exonerated him.
Dean said JIC Chairman Randall L. Cole, a DeKalb County circuit judge, informed him in a Feb. 3 letter that his complaint had received "serious attention and has resulted in appropriate action."
Cole said state law prevented the commission from disclosing its findings but that Dean's complaint "served a useful purpose."
Formal Grievance addressing the egregious and unlawful recent conduct of Respondent Haralson in the matter of Jackson County citizen Phillip Dean
COURT WATCHERS ALLIANCE USA
3310 S. Ocean Blvd.,Ste 727 www.Courtwatchers.Org Boca Raton, Fl. 323487-2590
March 30, 2004
Judge Randall L. Cole
Chairman, Judicial Inquiry Commission
401 Adams Street, Suite 720
Montgomery, AL 36160
In The Matter of Mr. Phillip Dean, A Citizen of Jackson County, Alabama and Hon. Wallace Haralson, A Circuit Court Judge in Jackson County, Alabama
Dear Judge Cole:
Please regard this letter as a formal Grievance filed by Courtwatchers Alliance USA, Robert T. Farley, Director, known herein as The Relator, against one Judge Wallace Haralson, a Circuit Court Judge in Jackson County, Alabama, known herein as The Respondent.
This Formal Grievance addresses the egregious and unlawful recent conduct of Respondent Haralson in the matter of Jackson County citizen Phillip Dean. To Wit:
This Relator personally interviewed Mr. Dean at length. Relator personally discussed this matter with Huntsville Times reporter David Brewer, as well. Relator has collected additional factual information from newspaper articles appearing in The Huntsville Times newspaper, The Associated Press
Wire Service and The Scottsboro Daily Sentinel .
In the divorce matter styled Dean Vs. Dean, a divorce was granted the Deans in 1996. This is not an issue of this Relator.
For several years thereafter, custody of three children was contested by both parties to the divorce with recent custody being had by the former Mrs. Dean awarded by Judge Haralson in 1998.
In 2003 Phillip Dean, through his counsel, appealed to Judge Wallace Haralson for custody of his daughters based on evidence allegedly obtained by Mr. Dean that his ex wife was leading a corrupt and depraved life and was an unfit parent and a detrimental influence on his daughters.
A more complete record of these activities may be found in the files of the
Court, which Mr. Dean reports have been locked away in the private desk of Judge Haralson, even though same are public records with no orders for sealing of same records, they are apparently are not available for inspection by the public as the result of this unilateral and unlawful action of the Respondent.
During July, 2003 Mr. Dean was advised by his counsel that he had lost his appeal to Judge Haralson for custody of his daughters. He was told by his attorney that an appeal to the Appellate Court would cost him at least $ 10,000 and would be a waste of his money. This was in addition to the fact that Mr. Dean has already lost his life savings to this never ending litigation of over seven years, a sum of over $ 68,000. Mr. Dean had no more money to spend on the issue at that point in time.
After his appeal time had expired in August, 2003, Dean responded by contacting several Alabama newspapers, hoping that one of them would tell his story of injustice at the hands of Respondent. None were interested in doing that. Phil Dean doesn't own a newspaper or a TV station. Thereafter, Phil Dean responded in the only other lawful way he knew of at that time. He erected signs in his front yard along County Road 107, telling his story in a lawful manner. See
Exhibit # 1.
By way of contrast, DC Sniper John Allen Mohammad also lost custody of his children in another custody atrocity of the Domestic Relations Industry. As the result, Mohammad and his partner Lee Malvo starting blowing 13 people away in 23 days of terror around Washington, D.C. (and one more in Alabama earlier). Contrast? Phil Dean just put up a sign as his way of protesting the American Legal System. He's allowed to do that. That is not against the law. But, for that, Respondent Wallace Haralson picked him up, tied him up, locked him up and wanted to throw away the key. Bond was specifically denied in his Order, a cognitive act of rage and passion heaping further insult on top of injury. Respondent Wallace Haralson should not be near any courtroom in the free world although he might do well in The Peoples Republic of North Korea.
One of these Dean signs read, “OUR COURT SYSTEM IS A JOKE.” Please see Exhibit # 1. Given the widespread clamor over the courts and the Divorce Industry seen by Courtwatchers Alliance each month year after year, Relator can certainly agree with that sign and we do so on the World Wide Web everyday without being arrested and locked away without a bond by some neo-fascist judge who doesn't happen to agree with us.
The erection of the signs on Mr. Dean's private property at 4928 County Road 107, shortly brought an angry, injudicious, criminal and fascist response from Respondent Haralson and armed deputies operating at his order. On August 18, 2003, Phil Dean awoke before dawn for his usual breakfast. On returning to his home, he discovered that his signs were missing. Dean called the Skyline, Al Police Department to report the theft. He was told by the Chief of Police that Jackson County sheriff's officers had removed the signs and apparently took them to the courthouse.
He then called Jackson County Sheriff Wells who confirmed that his officers had removed the signs. He was told that Sheriff Deputies had removed the signs, apparently on the verbal orders of Respondent Haralson. The Sheriff also told Dean that he was going to pick him up later that day and that, “ the Judge wants you to spend 30 days in jail to teach you a lesson.”
Let me be perfectly clear Judge Cole. Armed government officers came on to the private land of citizen Phillip Dean without a hearing, without due process and without a warrant and had confiscated (stolen) the private property (signs) of Mr. Dean on the verbal order of a fascist in a black robe. Shades of King George. We tried to stop all that back in 1776 and here we are in Alabama in 2004 during the same thing as the King's Dragoons were doing in 1776.
THE ATROCITY GETS WORSE
About 3:00 PM that day, armed government officers returned to the private home of citizen Phil Dean. One of the officers said, “ I'm ashamed to tell you why we are here Phil, but we have an order from “the judge” to arrest you and bring you in.”
Good citizen Phil Dean offered no resistance. Had these armed deputies come for such a private citizen at Ruby Ridge, Idaho or Waco, Texas, things might have been different. Dean peacefully went along with the judicial atrocity. At the County Jail, hard working and tax paying logging contractor Phil Dean was locked away in a tiny cage without a bond. It was almost as though he had committed a series of heinous axe murders. Later on in the atrocity, he would be handcuffed and shackled from head to toe. The Black Shirts of the 1938 Waffen SS would have been proud of Judge Haralson and Sheriff Wells for their conduct that day.
There was no arrest warrant or capias. Dean was finally presented with an ORDER OF CONTEMPT , although there had never been a Hearing on the Contempt Charge. It was hurredly drafted in a fit of passion, signed and executed by the most powerful man in Jackson County, Alabama, Judge Wallace Haralson, a judge gone mad with power and a madman who must be removed from this office. Please see Exhibit # 2.
When a trussed up Phil Dean appeared in prison garb before Respondent
Haralson, Haralson harassed him with needless commentary. “Do you feel embarrassed Dean?” Mr. Dean answered, I do not feel one bit embarrassed.”
Phil Dean spent 26 hours in the People's Prison of Jackson County. His Huntsville attorney Sheryl Snodgrass Caffey finally appeared and explained the First Amendment of the U. S. Constitution (and Alabama I am sure), along with Criminal Rule 33 to the lawless renegade Respondent. Caffey showed Respondent the law and Criminal Rules right from the books in her possession.
Witnesses reported at one point, Respondent Haralson said, “ I might have violated your law Ms. Caffey, but in my eyes I haven't.” It's seems clear from the Haralson statement that he somehow believes that he is the maker of law in Alabama and above the laws of Alabama and the nation. In fact, Respondent Haralson is a black robe renegade who must be removed from office. He is truly dangerous to freedom and democracy. Respondent then ordered deputies to return judicial victim Phil Dean to the county jail and release him. CW hopes Attorney Caffey also explained the Fourth Amendment to both the Respondent and to Sheriff Wells, as well.
The nation is well aware and will long remember the lawlessness that occurred in Scottsboro, Alabama in 1931. It certainly does not appear that Scottsboro has advanced much since those dark days of The Scottsboro Boys based on the clear racist mentality of Respondent Wallace Haralson.
Lord knows, it seems to this Relator that we need Judge Moore's Tablets of the Ten Commandments in every court house and every sheriff's office in Alabama when we see things like this coming down.
HARALSON GETS STILL WORSE WITH EVEN MORE ATROCITIES
On March 17 and 18, 2004 Huntsville Times reporter and Scottsboro Bureau Chief Dave Brewer was writing his story which appeared in the Times with a headline “ Judge Gets Letter Over Sign Arrest .” A letter? Judge Cole, it is very hard to believe that you have a fascist like Respondent Haralson loose in The State of Alabama and all they get is a letter asking them to be less despotic . Please see Huntsville Times Story, Exhibit # 3.
This is akin Adolf Hitler telling the SS guards at Auchwitz to be more humane as they marched their Jewish victims to the gas chambers.
Along the way, it seems that Respondent asked reporter Brewer to “kill the story.” This judge clearly does not understand things in the real world. Reporter Brewer declined the “kill” order and ran the story anyway. Dean reports that Judge Haralson told Brewer “ the only worse thing that could happen would be if Dean had been Black .” Excuse me your Honor ? “ Black ?” Shades of 1931. Is this justice, fair and impartial, in Alabama? How could being a Black man make Judicial Crime any more the worse for this clearly racist Respondent?
Recently, Huntsville Times Editorial Writer Dave Prather wrote a follow up piece on these judicial crimes. Please See Exhibit # 4 – Freedom Takes A Hit In Jackson County. Still suffering from foot in mouth disease, Respondent Haralson confirmed to Prather that the Times story was “factually correct” but he then wanted to go “ off the record ” to discuss the case further. Reporter Prather declined to go “off the record” so we have to assume that the reports of Dean, Brewer and Prather are correct. Maybe he wanted to repeat his thought that his plight could have been worse if only Phil Dean "had been a black man."
Finally, Mr. Dean has advised this writer that the Dean records are locked up in the judge's desk and are not accessible by the public. Dean reported that Brewer tried to get more background for his story, but could not get to the records in Haralson's private desk.
The Preamble of the Alabama Code of Judicial Ethics reads in part:
“. . . mindful that the character and conduct of a judge should never be objects of indifference. . .”
2. In fact, the Feb., 2004 to Judge Haralson from Judge Cole is paramount indifference to the egregious problem Respondent has become to the People of Alabama, nothing more than a “slap on the little finger” by your JIC. More is required for such a judicial monster. Much more.
3 CANON 1 : The Respondent is in clear violation of AJC Canon 1.
“A JUDGE SHOULD UPHOLD THE INTEGRITY AND INDEPENDENCE OF THE JUDICIARY.”
“. . . a judge should himself observe high standards of conduct so that the integrity and independence of the judiciary may be preserved.”
The Respondent Haralson is in naked violation of this Canon in several ways. To Wit:
Ordering unlawful violations of the First and Fourth Amendments of the United States Constitution and applicable sections of the Alabama Constitution and applicable law Alabama law.
Attempting to influence a newspaper reporter to kill a story, another attempt to stifle and oppress the First Amendment.
Attempting to influence a second newspaper reporter “off the record,” still another attempt to stifle and oppress the First Amendment.
Unlawful arrest and incarceration of a citizen of Alabama contrary to Alabama law and Criminal Rules of Procedure.
4. CANON 2 (A) and (B):
A JUDGE SHOULD AVOID IMPROPRIETY AND THE APPEARANCE OF IMPROPRIETY IN ALL HIS ACTIVITIES.
A. In Part: A judge should respect and comply with the law. . .
B. In Part: A judge should at all times maintain the decorum and temperence befitting his office. . .
Commentary, In Part:
Public confidence in the judiciary is eroded by irresponsible or improper conduct by judges .
5. CANON 3: (A) (1),(2),(3),(4),(5),(6)
A JUDGE SHOULD PERFORM THE DUTIES OF HIS OFFICE IMPARTIALLY AND DILIGENTLY.
1. All violations listed in CANON 1 as though fully written out here.
2. Use of the prejudicial word “black man ” in a negative public conversation with a Sheriff and a newspaper reporter clearly classifies this judge as a racist bigot and as one who must be removed from his office. He is unworthy of serving the 26 % of the people of Alabama who are non-white.
According to an article by writer David Brewer in the Huntsville Times of March 18, 2004, you have sent a letter to Respondent Haralson suggesting that he “be more judicious in the future. . .”
The judge has apparently seized on your letter and has announced that he
has been completely “ exonerated .” Exonerated? For this reason Judge Cole, the Alabama public needs a public statement from you confirming that this racist fascist has been exonerated for his acts of home invasion by armed officers, his crushing of the First and Fourth Amendments, his attempts to muzzle the press and his bigoted description of African-Americans to reporter Brewer.
If your Commission has “ exonerated ” this Respondent for those acts, then the People of Alabama (and the world) have a right to know of this. Otherwise, I trust and request that you remove this cancer from the judicial body with all deliberate speed just as my associate Ken Hearn of Judicial Watch has previously suggested in his letter of March 22, 2004. No more judicial atrocities can be risked at the hands of this Respondent. He is a very dangerous man.
This story is being put up on Courtwatchers.Org and will be then be copied and carried by numerous other web site throughout the world. Do the Right Thing Judge Cole so we can report that Justice is alive and well in Alabama and it is not Just-Us Vs. Fascists in America. Otherwise, you will confirm the headline of Dave Prather's column and confirm that Freedom Has Taken a Big Time Hit in Alabama.
Wherefore, Pursuant to Alabama Code of Judicial Conduct, the Alabama
Code of Professional Responsibility, The Alabama Code, the United States Code
and the Constitutions of Alabama and the United States of America, Relator
alleges that Respondent Wallace Haralson is chargeable with despotic gross
misconduct in office and criminal acts;
Therefore, Relator suggests that probable cause exists for this matter to be brought before the Alabama Court of the Judiciary where this judge should be found guilty of these charges and removed from office posthaste.
Robert T. Farley, Director
Courtwatchers Alliance USA
Member, Judicial Watch, Florida
Member, Jail 4 Judges, Florida
cc: Mr. Phillip Dean
Sheryl Snodgrass Caffey, Esq.
Ken Hearn, Judicial Watch, Alabama
Judicial Watch, Washington, D.C.
Jail 4 Judges, Branson. California
David Brewer, Huntsville Times, Scottsboro Bureau Chief
David Prather, Huntsville Times
Mazie Aldrich, Editor, Scottsboro Daily Sentinel
Judge Wallace Haralson, Jackson County Circuit Court
E. Baumgartner, J.D., CW Staff Legal Advisor
SOME COPIES SENT BY FAX AND USPS
Exhibit 1 - Photos of Yard Sign “Our Court System Is A Joke” and
Judicial Victim Phillip Dean. Photos Courtesy of The Huntsville Times and AP Wire Service.
Exhibit 2 - Order in Contempt
Exhibit 3 - “Judge Gets Letter Over Sign Arrest” - David Brewer
Exhibit 4 - Judicial Panel Cautions Judge Who Jailed Man . . .
The Associated Press
Exhibit 5 - Freedom Takes A Hit In Jackson County – David Prather
Related Recent Police State Developments
State demanding activist return records on official
Documents show border relations chief is Mexican citizen
Houston Chronicle Austin Bureau
AUSTIN -- After conservative Houston activist Mary Williams received documents confirming that Gov. Rick Perry's head of Texas-Mexico relations is a Mexican citizen, she shared the information with some of her political friends.
That apparently prompted an anonymous letter sent to farmers and ranchers claiming Mexico isn't paying its water debt to the United States because Helena Colyandro, a resident alien, is negotiating on Texas' behalf.
Now, the Texas secretary of state's office is demanding Williams return all the documents she received, citing the inadvertent release of confidential information. The letter also demanded a list from Williams of everyone with whom she had shared the Colyandro documents.
Williams said Monday the demand smacks of government intrusion into her First Amendment rights of free speech and political association.
"All they're trying to do is intimidate me," Williams said.
Benjamin Hanson, general counsel for Secretary of State Geoff Connor, said he is just trying to recover a document that contains information that could be used to invade Colyandro's privacy.
Williams requested information about Colyandro under the Texas Public Information Act. As allowed by the act, Hanson released her driver's license and Social Security numbers and address, but mistakenly released her resident alien number, which is confidential under federal law.
"We'd like to be able to put the genie back in the bottle as far as the confidential information goes," Hanson said.
"I don't have a problem with them saying whatever they want to say about Helena because I'm 100 percent comfortable that her allegiance is to the state of Texas and the advice she gives to state officers is not conflicted simply because of her alien status."
Colyandro, who declined comment, was hired in April 2002 by then-Secretary of State Gwyn Shea as the director of Mexico and Border Affairs.
Colyandro's husband is Republican political consultant John Colyandro, who currently is a subject of a Travis County grand jury investigation into campaign finances in the 2002 elections.
Williams, an anti-tax activist, said she sought information on Colyandro after receiving a tip that the state's leader on dealing with Mexico is not a U.S. citizen. She said she gave copies of the documents to some friends.
Earlier this month, an anonymous letter went out to an unknown number of West Texas ranchers and lower Rio Grande Valley citrus farmers. The letter contained photo copies of documents marked exactly as they were when released to Williams.
Williams said Monday she has not seen the letter and does not know who wrote it.
The letter said not everyone in state government has favored holding Mexico responsible for releasing water in connection to a U.S.-Mexico treaty. The letter said Perry has been advised against making the water debt an issue by a high government official.
"Should a person whose allegiance to another country hold such a position?" it said. "Why is `advice' contrary to our best interests, especially on the water debt issue to be tolerated?"
In her current position, Colyandro supervises a staff of 10 and serves as the lead staffer for the state and the governor's office in dealings with Mexico and border governors.
|| Keeping dissent invisible
How the Secret Service and the White House keep protesters safely out of Bush's sight -- and off TV.
Oct. 16, 2003
PHILADELPHIA -- When Bill Neel learned that President George W. Bush was making a Labor Day campaign visit to Pittsburgh last year to support local congressional candidates, the retired Pittsburgh steelworker decided that he would be on hand to protest the president's economic policies. Neel and his sister made a hand-lettered sign reading "The Bushes must love the poor -- they've made so many of us," and headed for a road where the motorcade would pass on the way from the airport to a Carpenters' Union training center.
He never got to display his sign for President Bush to see, though. As he stood among milling groups of Bush supporters, he was approached by a local police detective, who told him and his sister that because they were protesting, they had to move to a "free speech area," on orders of the U.S. Secret Service.
"He pointed out a relatively remote baseball diamond that was enclosed in a chain-link fence," Neel recalled in an interview with Salon. "I could see these people behind the fence, with their faces up against it, and their hands on the wire." (The ACLU posted photos of the demonstrators and supporters at that event on its Web site. ) "It looked more like a concentration camp than a free speech area to me, so I said, 'I'm not going in there. I thought the whole country was a free speech area.'" The detective asked Neel, 66, to go to the area six or eight times, and when he politely refused, he handcuffed and arrested the retired steelworker on a charge of disorderly conduct. When Neel's sister argued against his arrest, she was cuffed and hauled off as well. The two spent the president's visit in a firehouse that was serving as Secret Service and police headquarters for the event.
It appears that the Neels' experience is not unique. Late last month, on Sept. 23, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit in a federal court in Philadelphia against the Secret Service, alleging that the agency, a unit of the new Homeland Security Department charged with protecting the president, vice president and other key government officials, instituted a policy in the months even before the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks of instructing local police to cordon off protesters from the president and Vice President Dick Cheney. Plaintiffs include the National Organization for Women, ACORN, USA Action and United for Justice, and groups and individuals who have been penned up during presidential visits, or arrested for refusing to go into a "free speech area," in places ranging from California to New Mexico, Missouri, Connecticut, New Jersey, South Carolina and elsewhere in Pennsylvania.
The ACLU, which began investigating Secret Service practices following Neel's arrest, has identified 17 separate incidents where protesters were segregated or removed during presidential or vice-presidential events, and Pittsburgh ACLU legal director Witold Walczak says, "I wouldn't be surprised if this is just the tip of the iceberg. We don't have the resources to follow Bush and Cheney everywhere they go." The suit also comes at a time of mounting charges by many civil libertarians on both the left and the right that the Bush Administration and Attorney General John Ashcroft's Justice Department are trampling on civil liberties.
"There is some history supporting the notion that all presidents dislike people who don't like them," says Stefan Presser, head of the ACLU of Philadelphia ACLU chapter and another lead attorney in the suit the Secret Service. "But this approach of fencing protesters in and removing them from view is unprecedented, and it's gotten worse over the past two years."
Well, maybe not exactly unprecedented. Pittsburgh's Walczak notes that during Nixon administration, especially during his second term, police "made quite a practice" of tearing up protest signs and confining protesters, and at least in one case that went to court, the Secret Service admitted being behind the actions. He says there were some isolated instances of interference with protesters during the Reagan administration, and even at President Clinton's inauguration, an attempt was made (unsuccessfully, thanks to ACLU intervention) to bar anti-abortion protesters from the inaugural march.
In its complaint, the ACLU cites nine cases since March 2001 in which protesters were quarantined. And it alleges that the Secret Service, with the assistance of state and local police, is systematically violating protesters' First Amendment rights via two methods. "Under the first form," the suit says, " the protesters are moved further away from the location of the official and/or the event, allowing people who express views that support the government to remain closer. Under the second form, everyone expressing a view -- either critical or supportive of the government -- is moved further away, leaving people who merely observe, but publicly express no view, to remain closer."
In either case, the complaint adds, "protesters are typically segregated into what are commonly referred to as 'protest zones.'"
In the ACLU's view, the strategy, besides violating a fundamental right of free speech and assembly, is damaging in two ways. "It insulates the government officials from seeing or hearing the protesters and vice-versa, and it gives to the media and the American public the appearance that there exists less dissent than there really is."
Certainly, as television cameras follow a presidential motorcade lined with cheering supporters, the image on the tube will be distorted if protesters have all been spirited away around a corner somewhere fenced in for the duration.
Contacted by Salon, the Secret Service denied that it discriminates against protesters. "The Secret Service is message-neutral," said spokesman John Gill. "We make no distinction on the basis of the purposes or intent of any group or the content of signs."
Further, Gill insisted that the establishment and oversight of local viewing areas during a presidential or vice presidential visit "is the responsibility of state and local law enforcement." In practice, it's apparently not that simple, though. Nor is the Secret Service's carefully worded denial of responsibility as definitive as it might appear. The "establishment of viewing areas" is indeed a local law enforcement responsibility, but local law enforcement officials say that the Secret Service has in some cases all but ordered them to pen in protesters. And it appears that the Secret Service is making recommendations about how that should be done.
Paul Wolf is an assistant supervisor in charge of operations at the Allegheny County Police Department and was involved in planning for the presidential visit to Pittsburgh last fall. He told Salon that the decision to pen in Bush critics like Neel originated with the Secret Service. "Generally, we don't put protesters inside enclosures," he said. "The only time I remember us doing that was a Ku Klux Klan rally, where there was an opposing rally, and we had to put up a fence to separate them.
"What the Secret Service does," he explained, "is they come in and do a site survey, and say, 'Here's a place where the people can be, and we'd like to have any protesters be put in a place that is able to be secured.' Someone, say our police chief, may have suggested the place, but the request to fence them in comes from the Secret Service. They run the show."
The statement by Wolf, who ranks just below the Allegheny County police chief, is backed up by the sworn testimony of the detective who arrested Neel. At a hearing in county court, Det. John Ianachione, testifying under oath, said that the Secret Service had instructed local police to herd into the enclosed so-called free-speech area "people that were there making a statement pretty much against the president and his views." Explaining further, he added: "If they were exhibiting themselves as a protester, they were to go in that area."
Asked to respond to the accounts of Wolf and Ianachione about the Secret Service's role in handling of protesters, spokesman Gill said only, "No comment." Asked pointedly whether Wolf's account was incorrect, Gill again said, "No comment."
Wolf also raises the possibility that White House operatives may be behind the moves to isolate and remove protesters from presidential events. He says that while he cannot recall specifically whether they were present with the Secret Service advance team before last year's presidential Labor Day visit, "I think they are sometimes part of" the planning process. The Secret Service declined to comment on this assertion, saying it would not discuss "security arrangements." The White House declined to comment on what role the White House staff plays in deciding how protesters at presidential events should be handled, referring all calls to the Secret Service.
Asked specifically whether White House officials have been behind requests to have protesters segregated and removed from the vicinity of presidential events, White House spokesman Allen Abney said, "No comment." But he added, "The White House staff and the Secret Service work together on a lot of things." While the Secret Service won't confirm that it is behind the pattern of tight constraints placed on protesters at public appearances by Bush and Cheney, the ACLU claims that mounting evidence suggests that this is exactly what is going on.
But the ACLU's lawsuit claims that the Secret Service is responsible for the tight constraints. A number of individual plaintiffs in the suit say that when they were directed into remote "free-speech areas," or arrested for refusing to go to such sites, they were informed that the local police were acting "on orders from the Secret Service."
That's the story Bill Ramsey got when he was arrested last Nov. 4 by police in St. Charles, Mo., while attempting to unfurl an antiwar banner amid a group of pro-Bush people during a presidential visit to a local airport. "The police told us if we wanted to show the banner, we'd have to go to a parking lot four-tenths of a mile away and out of sight of the president's motorcade," says Ramsey. When we attempted to put it up anyway, they arrested us, and said they'd been ordered to by the Secret Service."
But Ramsey says that when his organization, the Instead of War Coalition, has sought to obtain permission to hold its demonstrations during presidential visits, they are told by the Secret Service that such matters are the responsibility of local police. "When we go to the local police, though, they say it's up to the Secret Service."
Efforts to obtain a comment from the St. Charles Police Department were unsuccessful.
Andrew Wimmer, another member of the Instead of War Coalition, says he was offered a similar explanation last January in St. Louis when he attempted to unfurl a sign reading "Instead of War, Invest in People" on a street full of Bush supporters. According to Wimmer, St. Louis police officers told him he'd have to leave a street full of Bush supporters and go to a protest area two blocks from the presidential motorcade route because of his protest sign. He recalls that as crowds of people walked down a thoroughfare toward the trading company that President Bush was slated to visit, "local police were pulling out people carrying protest signs and directing them to the protest area." The 48-year-old IT worker says, "When they got to me, I said no, I'd just as soon stand with the people here. But they said the Secret Service wanted protesters in the protest area."
In the end, Wimmer, like Ramsey and others who have refused to be caged during protests, was arrested. "They charged me with obstructing passage with my sign, which was a 2.5-foot-by-2-foot lawn sign," he says, noting that a woman standing nearby with a similar-size sign saying "We love you Mr. President," was left alone.
"The Secret Service keeps saying that the decision to separate protesters and remove them from view is a local police matter," says Denise Lieberman, legal director of the ACLU of Eastern Missouri, who is representing both Ramsey and Wimmer in their arrest cases. "But these kinds of things only happen when the Secret Service is involved. We've had many visits to St. Louis -- by the pope, by candidates, by dignitaries -- and it's only when the president or the vice president come to town that this kind of thing happens."
"We expect to see a lot more of this heading into a campaign season," says Chris Hansen, senior staff attorney at the ACLU and one of the lead attorneys handling the suit against the Secret Service.
Presser, the Philadelphia ACLU attorney, traces the tactic to the last Republican National Convention, which nominated Bush for the presidency in August 2000. "The GOP tried to reserve every possible space where a protest group might rally," Presser recalls. "Part of the party's contract with the city of Philadelphia for the convention was that they were given an omnibus permit to use 'all available space' for the two weeks of the convention. They basically privatized the city to block all legal protest."
During that convention, the city attempted to require all groups seeking to protest during the convention to apply for permits to get a 15-minute protest time slot, during which they would be allowed to assemble and make their statement in a sunken "protest pit," remote from the Convention Center. Many groups refused, and the result was a series of conflicts with local police and many arrests, most of which were later tossed out by the courts.
Since then, Presser charges, the Bush administration has continued the strategy of using the Secret Service and cooperative local police departments to keep protesters at bay, and not incidentally, out of easy range of the media. "People used to say that Ronald Reagan's was the most scripted administration we ever had," the attorney says, "but this Bush administration has gone way beyond that." Presser adds that he was told by William Fisher, a senior Philadelphia police captain and head of the department's Civil Affairs Unit, that the tight restrictions and decision to cordon off protesters during presidential visits have come "at the Secret Service's direction." Fisher declined to be interviewed for this article, but when asked, did not deny Presser's account of their conversation.
Presser and the ACLU don't question the Secret Service's responsibility to protect the president and other key government officials. Even plaintiffs in the case agree that the president must be protected. But "putting protesters behind a fence isn't going to help," says Neel, the former Pittsburgh steelworker. "I mean, somebody who was going to attempt an assassination wouldn't be carrying a protest sign. He'd be carrying a sign saying 'I love George!'"
The ACLU's Presser agrees. "Just as the terrorists who attacked the World Trade Center were careful to blend in and stayed away from mosques," he says, "anyone who had ill will towards the president could just put on a pro-Bush T-shirt and, under this policy, he'd be allowed to move closer to the president by the Secret Service."
He adds, "It seems that these 'security zones' for protesters have very little to do with the president's physical security, and a whole lot to do with his political security." Asked how many times in history an attack had been made on a president or other official under Secret Service protection by someone clearly identifiable as a protester, agency spokesman Gill said, "I'm not going to comment on that." Interestingly, Gill at no point claimed that protesters posed a special threat to the president or vice president.
Whatever the real motives behind it, the Secret Service policy of fencing off protests and protesters during presidential events may be in for a tough challenge. The judge assigned to the case, John Fullam, is an appointee of former President Lyndon B. Johnson, and back in the late 1980s issued a permanent injunction in Philadelphia -- still in effect -- that bars both the city of Philadelphia and the National Parks Department (the agency in charge of the city's many federal monuments), from treating protesters or people wearing protest paraphernalia any differently from other citizens.
The ACLU, which is seeking an injunction barring the Secret Service and local police from treating protesters differently from other spectators at administration events, is hopeful that the court will act "before the presidential campaign gets into full swing next summer," says Walczak. Meanwhile, Presser says he is optimistic that the lawsuit, simply by being filed, could make things easier for protesters during the coming campaign season."I suspect that this suit may give the Secret Service and local police some pause in how they treat protests," he says.
Hiding protestors in 'Free Speech Zones' is cowardly and un-American
By Charles Levendosky
Casper (Wyo.) Star-Tribune
President Bush has never been an advocate of the First Amendment. Even when he was governor of Texas, he prohibited demonstrations on the walkways in front of the governor's mansion, an area which had traditionally been used for peaceful protests.
As president, Bush has widened his restrictions on demonstrations against his policies. Anti-Bush protesters are now relegated to what are euphemistically called Free Speech Zones. These areas are cordoned off as far as a mile away from the president and the main thoroughfares, so that Bush cannot see the demonstrators, or their signs of protest, nor hear their chants.
The free speech enclosures are only for those who disagree with the administration's current policies. Those citizens who carry pro-Bush signs are allowed to line the street where the president's motorcade passes.
Members of the Secret Service or local law enforcement officers under orders of the Secret Service demand protesters move into a free speech area.
Brett Bursey, of South Carolina, attended a speech given by the president at the Columbia Metropolitan Airport. He was standing among thousands of other citizens. Bursey held up a sign stating: "No more war for oil."
Bursey did not pose a threat to the president, nor was he located in an area restricted to official personnel. Bursey wasn't blocking a corridor the Secret Service needed to keep clear for security reasons. He was standing among citizens who were enthusiastically greeting Bush. Bursey, however, was the only one holding an anti-Bush sign.
He was ordered to put down his sign or move to a designated protest site more than half a mile away, outside the sight and hearing of the president. Bursey refused. He was then arrested and charged with trespassing by the South Carolina police.
However, those charges were dropped. Understandably, courts across the nation have upheld the right to protest on public property.
Instead, Bursey was indicted by the federal government for violation of a federal law that allows the Secret Service to restrict access to areas visited by the president. Bursey faces up to six months in prison and a $5,000 fine.
Members of the U.S. House, including those on the House Judiciary Committee and the House Select Committee on Homeland Security, sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft urging him to drop the federal criminal prosecution of Bursey.
The letter signed by 11 members of the House, including Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., and Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, states, in part: "As we read the First Amendment to the Constitution, the United States is a 'free speech zone.' In the United States, free speech is the rule, not the exception, and citizens' rights to express it do not depend on their doing it in a way that the president finds politically amenable. . . . We ask that you make it clear that we have no interest as a government in 'zoning' Constitutional freedoms, and that being politically annoying to the president of the United States is not a criminal offense. This prosecution smacks of the use of the Sedition Acts two hundred years ago to protect the president from political discomfort. It was wrong then and it is wrong now."
The American Civil Liberties Union, on behalf of four national advocacy groups, has filed a lawsuit in federal court charging the Secret Service with a "pattern and practice" of discrimination against protesters that violates their free speech rights. The suit seeks to ban the Secret Service and local police from confining protesters to areas away from the view of public officials and the press.
The federal government has gone much further, however. The Oct. 3, Fresno (Calif.) Bee reported that a member of the Fresno Sheriff's Department had infiltrated a peace group, Peace Fresno, to collect information on members of the group. Peace Fresno has no history of violent protests that would endanger national security.
And on July 13, the Department of Justice charged the environmental organization, Greenpeace Inc., with conspiracy to board a cargo vessel without the ship's permission and without other lawful authority before the vessel arrived at its destination. The second count under this prosecution charges Greenpeace with boarding the vessel before arrival. The maximum penalty for each count is a $10,000 fine, as well as a probation period that could reach 11 years. The cargo vessel was approximately three miles from the port of Miami.
The protest that sparked this federal prosecution occurred back in April 2002. Two Greenpeace activists climbed aboard a cargo ship to unfurl a banner protesting the ship's illegal cargo of Amazon mahogany wood. The banner simply read: "President Bush: Stop Illegal Logging." The activists were detained before they could unfurl the banner. It was an effort to prompt U.S. authorities to seize the ship's cargo.
However, the mahogany was never seized and the ship's captain was not detained for carrying illegal cargo. Instead, Greenpeace became the target of federal prosecutors.
The pattern is clear: the Bush administration wants to suppress civil disobedience and peaceful protest. The federal government has never criminally prosecuted an entire organization for the free speech activities of its supporters. It's an attack on the very core of the First Amendment.
One of this nation's founding documents, the Declaration of Independence, is a forceful protest against the actions of King George III and the British government. Protest actions like the Boston Tea Party, the civil rights movement and anti-war demonstrations have shown that active citizens have the ability to promote and secure democratic ideals.
Charles Levendosky is editorial page editor of the Casper Star-Tribune.
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