Eyre was being arraigned because he had been wearing a hat inside the Keene, New Hampshire courtroom. A bailiff had ordered him to remove the hat, which he refused.
Within seconds, a cop pounced on him, twisting his arms behind his back. Before he knew it, he was being led out of the courtroom by two cops and the bailiff.
All this before the judge even set foot into the courtroom.
Eyre was charged with disorderly conduct (aka contempt of cop) and resisting arrest, which a videotape of the incident shows he did not do. He was released after three-and-a-half days in jail.
But now Mueller is serving a 60 day sentence for contempt of court for a 40-second outburst in which he said, “you can kiss my fucking ass, you piece of shit.”
Eyre says the sentence is way too harsh for the action.
“This is a case of a judge who thinks he has his little fiefdom and believes he can do whatever he wants,” Eyre said in a telephone interview with Photography is Not a Crime Tuesday.
The truth is, this is the latest clash between District Court Judge Edward Burke and a growing number of activists who have been moving to Keene over the last few years under the Free State Project.
In 2009, Free State Project member Sam Dodson was jailed after he refused to stop videotaping outside Burke’s courtroom before an arraignment of another FSP member.
Dodson remained in jail for several weeks because he refused to identify himself, which he said was his Constitutional right. Several other FSP members have been jailed under similar circumstances, essentially victimless “crimes” where they were standing up for what they believe were their Constitutional rights.
Fortunately, they have been allowed to videotape inside the courtroom under a 2003 New Hampshire supreme court ruling, even though Burke issued a nonsensical order saying they were not allowed to videotape in the lobby outside the courtroom.
Under state law, they must fill out a form before a trial stating they want to videotape the proceedings and generally only one camera is allowed in the courtroom.
When Eyre was arrested for refusing to remove his hat, Mueller pulled out a camera and began videotaping, continuing to do so until he was ordered to stop, which he did.
Technically, they could have arrested him for that because he had not gone through the formal procedures, but they did not, according to Ian Freeman, who is usually the one to fill out the form to videotape hearings.
“The situation is all arbitrary,” Freeman said in a telephone interview Tuesday. “It all depends on the mood of the bailiffs.”
Considering they were all manhandling the non-resistant Eyre as if he were an escaped Charles Manson, they probably didn’t want to bother dealing with Mueller at the time.
The aggressiveness against Eyre for refusing to remove a hat doesn’t make sense considering last year Burke allowed another FSP member to remain in the courtroom who had also refused to remove his hat, as you can see in this video.
Remember, Burke had not even stepped into the courtroom when the cops pounced on Eyre.
The incident occurred Jan. 25 when the temperature in Keene had fallen below zero degrees. Eyre was wearing a hoodie over his hat to keep his head warm.
When he entered the security area of the courthouse on the second floor, the head bailiff told him to remove his hoodie. Then he told him to remove his hat as the bailiff performed his body scan, but allowed him to place it back on his head afterwards.
“He didn’t have a problem with it,” Eyre said.
Mueller’s incident occurred the following day during Eyre’s video arraignment, which has since been postponed because Eyre refused to answer the judge’s questions.
Mueller also later apologized to the judge for his outburst, as you can see in this video, but that did nothing to sway Burke into lightening his sentence.
Mueller has been incarcerated in the Chesire County Department of Corrections, which is run by Richard Van Wickler, a member of Law Enforcement Officers Against Prohibition, meaning he fully supports the legalization of marijuana.
According to Eyre, Wickler has voiced support for Mueller and said he can be released on good behavior after serving 40 days of the 60-day sentence.
But that is still a huge chunk of time, a full-day of life for each second he spent berating the judge.
“At the end of the day, they are the real criminals,” Eyre said. “Ademo and I were peaceful and they were the ones who assaulted us. They were the ones who kidnapped us.”
Mueller and Eyre were down in Miami last October during their Liberty On Tour project. Mueller and I had a minor confrontation with a Metrorail security guard.
If you would like to help Mueller in anyway during his incarceration, click on this Cop Block link and read section three.