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Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Federal Judge Allows Pro Se Suit Over Government Harassment

A Government Harassment Suit Goes to Court
The New York Times - OPINION - by Andrew Rosenthal  -  April 3, 2012

The Obama administration has been disturbingly successful at slamming the courts for any challenges to its excessive use, and abuse, of national security powers. So it is worth noting when a judge demands accountability. Take last week, when the administration insisted that U.S. District Court Judge Denise Casper throw out a civil suit filed against the Department of Homeland Security. She refused, granting the plaintiff a much-deserved shot at justice. Some background on the suit: David House co-founded a group that supports Bradley Manning, the soldier who was charged with turning over government documents to WikiLeaks. Mr. House says he was questioned multiple times by the F.B.I., among others, and put on a watch list that “has resulted in him being stopped for questioning and searched each time he enters the United States.” On Nov. 3, 2010, customs agents stopped him in Chicago. Then the Department of Homeland Security took him into custody and ordered him to surrender his laptop, USB storage device, video camera and phone. Mr. House said those devices contained personal information, including bank account passwords and private email, as well as material about the support group for Mr. Manning. While in custody, Mr. House was questioned about his association with Mr. Manning, and about whether he had any connection to WikiLeaks. “The agents,” the court said, “did not ask House any questions related to border control, customs, trade, immigration or terrorism, and at no point did the agents suggest that House had engaged in any illegal activity or that his computer contained any illegal material.” Federal agents held his equipment for 49 days. They later offered the ludicrous explanation that it took so long because their computer whizzes were unfamiliar with the operating systems. (Was he using DOS?) The federal government refused to say what information had been copied from the electronic devices, who had seen it, if copies were made, and whether they were destroyed, given that they had nothing to do with any criminal investigation.  From the use of customs as a pawn in what is obviously a political game, to the seizure of Mr. House’s computer devices, this is an outrageous abuse of power. But the government didn’t think Mr. House deserved even a day in court. It demanded that the court dismiss Mr. House’s claims that the search and seizure violated his Fourth and First Amendment rights. The court said Mr. House had a legitimate claim concerning the 49-day delay in returning his property. And it granted him the chance to argue that the entire search and confiscation was based solely on his association with the Bradley Manning Support group, and therefore violated his First Amendment rights. Judge Casper did the right thing by assessing this case on its merits, and not on the propaganda of fear that has dominated the national security debate since Sept. 11, 2001.


Anonymous said...

Mother of God.... a federal judge allowed a pro se litigant to be heard?!?!?!

Is this a mistake or a sign that judges are finally getting the hint to follow the law and not their old law partners' wishes.

Anonymous said...

It's time the government be one of laws not power craving men. Who keeps us safe from these "protectors"? Eric Holder?

Searching For Rule Of Law In America said...

"Mother Of God" here too :)

been there... i know what it's like to have meritorious case dismissed, not on law, not on defect in the pleadings... but merely because a politically connected judge is on of the defendants...

and the only thing they could find in their bag of tricks to base their dismissal on was Rooker Feldman...

but i digress... this isn't about me... this is about someone who chose to fight for his Constitutional protected rights, and about an Honorable Justice who firmly stands by the oath she has taken, and the belief that noone is beneath the law...

i still believe that there are some ethical judges in the system... i have to believe this... in spite of what i see and hear, i force myself to believe this on a daily basis...

we've got to help these people...if you are proceeding pro-se you've got to be fearless... you have to learn the law as best you can...

you've got to anticipate the inevitable motion for dismissal and be prepared for the tactics that will be used against you...

--Michael A. Hense is Searching For Rule Of Law In America

Anonymous said...

Whe I sued and still am suing OCA since 2005, I was FORCED TO GO PRO SE BECAUSE no ATTY WOULD TAKE MY CASE against the court system.
I had lost tons of income from that illegal termination etc,so I requested a Federal assignment and was happily granted same.

But the atty assigned to me had many conflicts and connections with OCA and the people I was suing, that she never revealed to me until she received a job with the state of deft... and left my case..3 plus yrs later.

When I waited for another atty for over 1 yr...because suing OCA at that point was beyond complex with all the games they played and manipulations they used.....Federal Ct asked me to go pro se again..really..after tons of depos and evidence..Fed Ct wanted me to handle OCA as a non-lawyer and alone, again Pro Se..while OCA had their own crew of lawyers from their counsel's office and the entire Atty General's office representing them..which numbered in the hundreds available to screw me.

Justice in America if you are not paying attention...will ruin you and your life and your case may as well be plain computer paper sitting in it's bin..ugh..ugh and OMG!

8 yrs later with 2 assigned Federal Ct lawyers.. I am not close to finished...what America is that about..any ideas from judges who know?

Can all these courts and judges be willing to open up their activities to the public over something that was always illegal etc and covered-up by them for 24 yrs..just to save a handful of OCA slugs from crimes they should have addressed for all those this reality or stupidity?

I would hope Federal Ct would step back and assess!

Anonymous said...

Alot of great comments. But to the last commenter that hopes the Fed Cts would step back and assess, great aspiration and hope but unfortunately it may be a fantasy or futile.

General sense is the fed courts and fed system in ny is part of the entrenched problem. Even for those fed judges who did not get "directly" selected out of State Court, the other ones grew out of the state system one way or the other.

NDNY US District Judge Lawrence Kahn came right out of NY State Supreme Court system.

Recently deceased US Second Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Roger Miner ( RIP ) came right out of State Supreme Court to the federal bench.

On and on and on.

Have personal experience with a former federal prosecutor who went to work for powerful firm and was the Albany contact. Lawyer wrote strong papers on case to Appellate Division but when denied there and got the one line denial from the Court of Appeals to review the case, the lawyer refused to take the case into the federal system.

The first line of defense/excuse for the lawyer to take the case into federal system became the "new" retainer ( $100,000 retainer which was known to be out of the realm of reality ).

Eventually, it was admitted that the lawyer was more concerned about HIS relationship with "state-fed" judges as lawyer served on committee that dealt with both and apparently did not want to jeopardize own personal career etc.

So yes sure, the Fed Cts should step back and assess but obviously that is not happening. If so, there would be a Federal Monitor over the State System as the obviously corrupted State Commission on Judicial Conduct which is State Constitutional requirement has been dysfunction for very long time and should be disbanded.

But the fed - state politics are mixed in probably in every corner of the state. Half of what has been going on in the State system would not be happening if there were any strong federal judges out there in the first place who would officially recognize the US Constitutional problems with the operations of the State Court system etc.

So its ok to have hope and aspirations that the fed courts may step back and assess.

But at the end of the day how many of the fed courts in ny are already part of the problem??

A problem which the feds and fbi and all know enough about already and yet nothing changes?

Anonymous said...

I would assume that the poster who desires that the Federal Ct steps back and assesses is saying so politely....because that case appears to still be in the hands and sole determination of the Federal Ct judge (SUMMARY JUDGMENT)..who as we well know will circumvent laws for that purpose with garbled writings that negate due process.

Federal Ct can be exposed as many judges have loose and embarrassing personal lives and lots of past indiscretions, that can be used in prejudicial rulings..of course if you are happened to be a well informed insider!

It is hard to internally fight OCA with Fed Ct..but outsiders are ripe for information and news outlets in the "country"..outside of corrupt NY.. are desparate for content..great news is scarce lately and begging for a story like the one above.

I hope that person is ready for the time is ripe for American unrest!

Anonymous said...


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