I read with some interest the articles in your paper printed in October and November of last year on Michael Gainey described as a veteran deputy of the Humboldt County Sheriff's Office. They painted a picture of someone who expected to never be taken to task for committing a serious crime, or what I had previously thought to be a serious crime. A crime for which even a small instance of was considered grounds to impeach Bill Clinton. It seems that a veteran deputy seemed to take it for granted that he had a license to do this, so much so that he didn't bother even to use the name of a real company when he lied and said that audio evidence in a case that put a man away in the earth's largest prison system for 2 years had been analyzed and proven to be particular people's voices. The lies he told on the stand in a court of law to excuse the first lie were just as blatantly bogus. He was compelled to resign. I suspect for getting caught more so than lying as we know is often the case.
Recently I went to the courthouse here in Eureka to witness the arraignment of Critical Mass bike riders accused of different violations of law including an alleged assault and battery on a CHP officer by one Katherine Zimmerman that allegedly left the officer with serious injuries. I took my camera and stood outside of a tightly packed courtroom trying to see what was going on and maybe get a couple of shots for the Communities For Peace website. Seeing a lone woman of large stature sitting handcuffed in an orange jumpsuit I snapped several images of her. Then Ms. Zimmerman was called and someone else came to the rail. I almost burst out laughing. Ms. Zimmerman is not a large woman by any stretch of the imagination and I would think a person who's job required the physical aptitude of a police officer would be ashamed to admit to such an injury (torn rotator cup cuff I think) even if it had been inflicted by this small woman of intelligent and mild demeanor. The charges against her seemed unlikely. The fact that, like many people sucked up into the world's largest and possibly most inherently corrupt "justice system", she had only the court appointed public defender to defend her jumped out at me.
The public defender, Mr. Robinson, a pleasant and apparently intelligent man who seems to have at least a normal human level of empathy, has since told me point blank in a hurried moment, that he has far too large a case load to properly defend people and must use much of his time in the defense of people facing very serious punishments such as life in prison. While current attacks on Paul Gallegos are focused on his cutting the number of attorneys employed by the county I would counter that the system is clogged with innocent indigent people, petty drug offenders including a steady stream of people there for small amounts of marijuana and untold numbers of malicious and frivolous litigations. The Sheriff's deputies can often be observed searching for homeless people sleeping in fields and woods, stopping people on the street for what appear to be dress code violations, settling domestic disputes and acting as the county dog catcher.
Very few people really dispute that the "system is broken"; the real argument is whether one is a beneficiary or victim of the system. If you have a lot of money you will be likely argue that justice is being done and if you make less than $50,000 or so a year you are likely to argue that the system is not fair. But, again, the real argument is whether or not one is a beneficiary or victim. Like most people, I believe that more lies are told in courts than anywhere else and that right and wrong, guilt and innocence are virtually irrelevant in the form over content world of the courtroom. Some money may help to mitigate a SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation, a malicious civil action based on fictitious or flimsy allegations to silence free speech) or criminal complaint but the system's corruption is now advancing exponentially like a malignant cancer raging in it's last stages prior to total, lethal, self consumption.
Free legal assistance has all but evaporated here in Humboldt County as I am sure it has elsewhere in the last days of democracy in the United States as we plunge into a new feudalism. Even those who are fighting this cancer in it's many symptomatic forms, are stuck with little or no defense when charges are leveled at them. Homeless people and the rapidly expanding peasant classes also have no hope of fairness in the courts. With perjury apparently an acceptable tool to use in court even more innocent people will be sent to the concentration camps of the new USA Incorporated.
The landed gentry and the (not so)noblemen above them will be able to deal freely with the peasantry as the whim moves them. We must fight this. With the neocons no longer even bothering to pay lip service to the militant "Christian" fundamentalists who put them in the White House or the militant "Muslim" fundamentalists who consolidated the neocon's power after the Reichstag Fire of the 21st century, the unopposed September 11th attacks on America's iconic buildings and the people therein, they are placing pro-corporate fascist yes men on the Supreme Court. We prevailed here in Humboldt County in a class action suit against the gross excesses of the CAMP program to the benefit of not only the innocent people who had their property destroyed or stolen in broad sweeps but to the improved the effectiveness of that program by holding them, at least to a small degree, to standards of human civilization. Recent pepper spray litigation dragged on for years with a mixed outcome. In the case of the Class action suit against CAMP, Judge Aguilar, who found for the victims was soon himself victimized in a vicious smear campaign and forced to retire. It will be an uphill battle but we must fight this battle.
Two ideas I favor personally are the creation of a legal defense fund for political activists and low income people and a class action suit on behalf of the thousands of railroaded citizens of Humboldt County. I would suggest naming it after Patrick O'Brien who was driven from his meager Southern Humboldt trailer in Melody Trailer Park a few years ago by drug addicts and finally arrested for trespassing (AKA homelessness) here in Eureka and held indefinitely in the Humboldt County "Correctional" Facility with some of the same people who had harassed him on the streets of Redway and Garberville who were in for beating a homeless man to death as he slept on the loading dock of the Redway Post Office. Pat finally "strangled himself" in the jail. Pat was a most harmless individual and his crime was innocence and poverty. This paper was kind enough to publish another rant of mine on that incident and the segment of society that encouraged "making homeless people feel uncomfortable" at that time. I have set up a fledgling website at http://www.HumboldtCorruption.org as an advocacy site for cleaning up Humboldt County. Not homeless people, junked vehicles and so on but the vile corruption of the government and the society that has spawned it. I am not close to being competent to manage the things I have suggested and possibly not even this website but hope this site and these ramblings will simply reach the ears of people who can do something. There may well be better ideas than a new more powerful legal defense network or a class action suit. These two appeal to me for political reasons and practical reasons. As a forum to put these vital issues into the forefront of community discussion and as a practical way to bring civilization to everyone and unclog our courts and jails.
"The abuse of buying and selling votes crept in and money began to play an important part in determining elections. Later on, this process of corruption spread to the law courts. And then to the army, and finally the Republic was subjected to the rule of emperors" Plutarch - Historian of the Roman Republic
Redwood Curtain CopWatch remembers and misses Noel, who died October 30, 2008. All people could learn from Noel's writings, honesty and humility, and dedication to justice, children, kindness, and humor.