It looks like I will be appealing my resisting arrest conviction sans lawyer. Pro Se as they say.
The few lawyers I spoke to were asking for more than $10,000 to take the case. Considering that I’ve already spent almost that much on this case so far, I am unable to put myself further into debt. It’s not like Congress is going to give me a bailout anytime soon.
However, the local ACLU chapter has taken an interest in the case, so they might help me or they might not.
The appeal process is pretty straightforward and the good thing is that I can submit a written argument and opt not to stand in front of the three judges to explain myself verbally. I’m more of a writer than a public speaker, so this works to my advantage.
But the problem I’m having so far is that every time I think I have paid all the required fees to get this moving, I receive another letter from the clerk of courts informing me that I need to pay even more money. If it’s not one thing, it’s the other. The latest letter states that I have to pay $108 to the clerk of the lower court so they can prepare the record on appeal.
Three weeks ago, I had to pay $216 for a filing fee, when I had just paid $230 for another filing fee when I first filed the appeal. With each notice comes a warning that if the fee is not paid by a certain date, then the case is thrown out.
In Mexico, they call this “la mordida”, the little bite. And everybody is getting their bite as I try to prove my innocence. Nobody said justice was cheap.
Then I had to pay $332 for a portion of the trial to be transcribed because it would have cost me $3,000 to get the entire trial transcribed. A 2-day misdemeanor trial is unheard of, they say.
But the court reporter company gave me a discounted rate because they believe in my cause, charging me $4 a page for a rush job while normally it would cost $5 a page for a job that takes two weeks and $6 a page for a rush job, which is done in a few days.
They’re all photographers so they had become readers of my blog since the last time I talked to them.
So now I have the portion of the transcript where one of the officers testifies that he made a “mistake” in the original arrest report.
You can read the “mistake” at the bottom of the second page where he claims I was escorted to the middle of the street and told to cross to the other side, only for me to refuse and get arrested.
Well what he meant to write, he claims, was that I was escorted to the other side of the street, but somehow ended up back in the middle of the street, which is why I was arrested.
But if you look at the above photo – the one with the street behind them – you can see that this would have required me to bust through a line of cops. A detail that would surely have been mentioned in the arrest report.
I also have the portion of the transcript in which the judge berates me before sentencing me, which is crucial for my appeal. I posted a portion of that below. Remember, I was found not guilty of disobeying a police officer and disorderly conduct, but he’s acting as I had just been convicted of all three counts.
“I can’t imagine why you thought this situation was worth getting arrested for. I can’t imagine for the life of me.
I don’t know if you think you’re some kind of hero or something like that, but if you want to see a hero, go visit Arlington. All right? I don’t think any of those people that are back here are those people that are giving you the — the thumbs up on your blog.
If I were to sentence you to jail, none of those people would volunteer to go in there to serve the time with you. They might say they would, but I guarantee you they wouldn’t. I’m shocked at your lack of remorse.”
The key word here is “remorse”, something I refused to show because I did not commit a crime. In the 2004 case Ritter vs Florida, the defendant won his appeal because the judge gave him a harsher sentence based on his lack of remorse by stating the following:
Mr. Ritter, you have been found guilty of one count of lewd and lascivious or indecent act upon a child by a jury on September 14, 2000. The court is terribly disturbed that I think you still maintain you did not do anything. This jury has in fact determined to the contrary and I am accepting the jury’s verdict having heard the testimony. I have not seen any indication of remorse in this matter. I understand a lot of pain and suffering has been caused to a lot of people, but I have not seen any indication of admission that something was done wrong on your part or remorse on your part for something having been done as opposed to the terrible tragedy you have inflicted on the entire family. Based upon that, sir, the court hereby sentences you to a term of 120 months in the Department of Corrections to be followed by a three year term of sex offender probation
The appeal judges ruled in favor of the defendant. I don’t see how they could rule any differently in my case.
But as I said, justice is not cheap. So I ask for your support by donating a few dollars to my Legal Defense Fund, which can be done at the top of the left sidebar.
And I am grateful to those readers who have already shown their support by donating a few dollars towards my Legal Defense Fund.
I asked a few of them how they came across this blog and why they donated. This is what they said:
The internet can be very powerful. I have always admired people that live by a set of principles and not by a political party line. I try to follow that lead. I believe in Free Speech even if it’s speech that may not be my “cup of tea”. How on earth are we ever going to be able to bring peace to this world if we can not discuss issues? I disdain name-calling, ridiculing and blogs that will literally gang up on you if you disagree with their talking points. I strive to do the opposite in my blog because I believe you get more with honey than with vinegar. Of course, some people are just so neurotic and angry that it’s better to just walk away, but for the most part the average person really wants to get along, methinks.
I believe you were treated unfairly and wanted to help out a little bit. Besides that I like your passion in your writings, pics/videos and it shows in the excellent work that you do. I don’t have to agree with your political views; that’s irrelevant to me. It’s the principles we have in common. Take care and keep up the good fight.
I “stumbled” upon your blog using firefox stumble and just cruising the web.
Your situation seemed a little like David and Goliath–I just felt moved to give some support to the little guy.
From Puerto Rico
I came across your site while pursuing a story about civil rights violations here in Puerto Rico (home).
Is always been my opinion that should be exercise our civil rights without restrictions, we start to call for restriction because of a single event and then go to the extreme. Nothing will make some people happier than limiting freedom of expression, specially in our government. The police are not the best guardians of freedom and neither the holders of rights. They are if anything common citizens with special duties due to their job.
As for your site it is the first time I read it and it look to me from the start that your only “crime” was that of defending your rights. For the last 8 years the rights of all Americans have been under siege by our own government with the excuse of protecting us from terrorism all the while becoming terrorist ourselves. If you do not believe me; ask the thousands of Iraqis and afghans hurt or left homeless by our war machine. The worst part is we bought into the lie and even thanked our elected officials for striping us of our civil rights.
Now that I finish ranting. I think you are doing a wonderful job in exposing what other have been saying all along. I am sorry I can not contribute more.
Keep up do not despair.
From North Miami Beach
I can’t stand bullies and need to stand up to them wherever I find them. When you boil everything down that’s what happened. They were being bullies. I hope you continue to stand up to them and defend our shared freedoms. When you think you are out there all alone remember that there are people like me, people you’ve never met, who will support you. The internet is a beautiful thing.
What prompted me to donate? I read Jailhouse Jaunt and was impressed. You’re a good writer. Very good. Probably better than you know. When you put up the call for help it was an easy decision.
Keep the faith.
From New Mexico
I an a photographer [50 years exp] and an ex-cop. Therefore I have a very low tolerance for the crap that was pulled on you. I do like the fact you don’t knuckle under but stand up and fight.
I have been following your blog since the incident.
I can’t recall where I stumbled across your site, a link no doubt, but I started following your situation right around the time you were going to trial. Ever since I’ve been checking in regularly to see how things are going. I wanted to show my support so I made a donation.
I work at a local TV station and I take photos on the side. Several times I’ve had run-ins with the public and with rent-a-cops, each time I was told I didn’t have the right to take pictures or video in public places. Fortunately I’ve never been faced with time in a jail cell because of my activities. I have had to deal with the police in the past, it’s never been a pleasant situation.
I am a firm believer in the First Amendment and the right, indeed the responsibility, of the people to speak truth to power. Too many of our elected officials and the people who enforce the laws of this land have become carried away with their power. They’ve forgotten where their authority comes from, they’ve forgotten that it’s been granted by us, the people, the citizens of this country.
I wish you luck in your future endeavors.