Saturday, December 11, 2010

Fourth Amendment: Touch My Junk, Please!

On Friday January 15, 2010 the U.S. Department of Justice sent two officers to my residence to interview me about a law enforcement matter.   One of the first things they had me do was sign an authorization to conduct a consentual search.

At the end of the interview, the officer began to stand.  I said, "Sir, you never did a search.  Don't you want to search my apartment?"  He said, "I already did a search."  He turned his head back and forth, motioning that he had scanned my apartment visually.

Well, damn it, I wanted to be searched.  Really searched.  I mean, what do we pay taxes for?  (Of course, I haven't filed a tax return in 15 years, but that's a different tale).  I'm not a big believer in the Fourth Amendment.  In fact, I rather like the idea of sharing my private world with law enforcement -- with anybody, in fact.

I said to the officers: "Here, come here, I'll show you my walk-in closet."  Call me paranoid, but I picked up the feeling that the lead officer was not enthusiastic about checking out the inner sanctum of my apartment.  It was as if he were thinking, "You're wasting our time, buddy."

We walked out of my walk-in closet and I drew the men's attention to my clothes closet.  I opened the door to the closet and said, "It's full of junk."  In fact, the closet contains, in plain sight, three suitcases.  The officers did not inspect the suitcases; they showed no interest in the contents of the suitcases -- or anything in the closet, for that matter.

What does it take to get a real federal law enforcement search in this town?

The Justice Department officers had been keenly interested in what it was that motivated me to write a blog and what it was that I was trying to accomplish with my blog.  But as to the truth of the matters published in the blog -- namely, that my supervisor said she feared I might kill her; that I might have been armed and extremely dangerous in 1989; or that the D.C. Court of Appeals had affirmed that my former employer had formed a genuine and credible belief that I was potentially violent -- they showed no concern at all.  They showed no concern that I might have a cache of weapons stored in my apartment: a concern that would seem reasonable given my repeated references in this blog to allegations that people feared I might become violent or homicidal.

The context of the officers' statements and behaviors suggested to me that the sole concern of the Justice Department was that someone had found this blog, My Daily Struggles, to be an embarrassment and that the officers had been sent to intimidate me to stop blogging.  Now that's a First Amendment issue.  While I'm not a big fan of the the Fourth Amendment, I have a deep interest in the right to free expression.


Gary Freedman said...

During the interview the officer asked: "What were the names of the Appeals Court judges?"

I said, "John Terry, Inez Reid, and Warren -- something Warren." (I think I had Warren King confused with Earl Warren or Warren Burger).

I might have said "wait a minute." I got up to go to the closet. I keep the litigation materials in a three-ring binder in the closet. I wanted to check the names of the judges.

When I got up to go to the closet, even after I opened the door to the closet, the officers said nothing.

Check the audiotape.

When I retrieved the binder I turned from the closet, walking back to the men -- they both looked at the binder which was pink in color, they then looked at each other with a peculiar expression. I had the feeling they were struck by the color of the binder! What an odd concern, I thought.

But here's the important issue:

How did they know I didn't suddenly get angry during the interview and go to the closet to get a gun? Think about it. They said and did nothing while I went to retrieve something from the closet. But what was I going to retrieve: that's what you'd expect them to be thinking.

And, by the way, the names of the appeals court judges are repeated again and again in countless letters on this blog. They already knew the names of the judges.

As I say the officers were like actors pretending to be law enforcement officers doing an interview. But bad actors. Their behaviors and statements did not fit together into a coherent whole -- a coherent whole that would indicate they had a genuine concern about my potential for violence.

Again, they seemed more concerned with my blogging activity (and my opera-going habits) than my potential for violence.

Gary Freedman said...

Like actors playing the role of law enforcement officers:

Gary Freedman said...

BTW, I didn't purchase a pink three-ring binder (not that there's anything wrong with that). I picked it out of the trash bin years ago.

Gary Freedman said...

The officer started the interview with the peculiar question: "Have you been to the opera lately?"

I said: "Yes, I went to the opera on November 15th, last year."

Gary Freedman said...

I told the USMS that I sent a copy of my book to Justice Ginsburg and that I sent an email to her daughter, Prof. Jane Ginsburg (at Columbia Law School).

I also sent a letter to a law partner of Justice Ginsburg's late husband, Martin Ginsburg; that letter contained a somewhat disrespectful, veiled (but unmistakable) reference to Justice Ginsburg.

The USMS didn't have a problem with that.

So the USMS conducted a ridiculous interview on 1/15/10 because I was calling attention on this blog to a court decision that was contrary to law

that affirmed a prior agency determination that was handed down by a District of Columbia official who had been found to have violated the Hatch Act (indicating that political loyalties for that official were more important than adhering to federal law) and who was later disbarred for misappropriating estate funds (an act involving moral turpitude).

I was questioned by the USMS about why I was writing a blog -- a blog that Akin Gump was obsessively interested in

a blog that called attention to matters that embarrassed the law partners of Vernon Jordan -- an individual who is a personal friend of the Attorney General and who reportedly tried to buy the silence of someone who had had illicit sex with the President.

The USMS tried to assess my feelings about a law parter at Akin Gump (Dennis Race) who had expressly asked that I not publish any statements that embarrassed the firm.

That doesn't seem strange to anybody?? I guess that's why they say I'm nuts. Me and Martha Mitchell!