We have been speaking to several Boston attorneys since last week in trying to determine the best approach to the upcoming magistrate hearing where the Boston Police Department will try to indict us for felony charges for trying to hold them accountable.
And while we haven’t settled on an attorney yet, it looks as if we’ll be hiring a veteran attorney from the Boston powerhouse law firm, Zalkind Duncan & Bernstein LLP, rated one of the nation’s best law firms by U.S. News.
But we need to raise $2,200 by tomorrow in order to retain him, which is why I launched this Indiegogo campaign (Indiegogo will take a cut of almost $200 while $2,000 will go to the attorney).
David Duncan, a partner at the firm, will take on both Taylor Hardy’s case of illegal wiretapping and my case for witness intimidation for that price, which is much lower than he would normally charge for two felony cases.
He was referred to us by my friends at the Digital Media Law Project, which is a site every one of you should become familiar with because it contains a wealth of legal information regarding media law, which in this day and age, applies to every single one of us who uses the internet.
I first met DMLP Director Jeff Hermes and Assistant Director Andy Sellars back in February 2012 during the Liberty Tree Initiative, where we all spoke about the importance of the First Amendment in the digital age.
And they’ve always been very helpful since, speaking to me at length last year when I was considering turning PINAC into a non-profit, making me realize that it’s not the best decision at the moment.
Considering they’re based in Cambridge, which is just outside Boston, they have a solid network of attorneys they can reach out to, which is what they did in our case.
We also had the Committee to Protect Journalists reaching out to their networks and I had my lawyer friends in Miami reaching out to their networks, so if I look tired in the above video, it’s because I’ve been spending my nights trying to finish my book on citizen journalism while spending my days talking to attorneys.
I am a strong believer in attorneys. You can’t have enough of them on your side. And in that regard, PINAC has been very lucky although I drive them nuts with my online rants and raves against the people trying to incarcerate me.
But I am also a strong believer in fighting the battle in the court of public opinion, which goes against the mindset of most attorneys, but apparently they trust me enough not to go too crazy because they still stand by my side when I need them the most.
About Thursday’s hearing. No, we’re not going to attend. We never planned to attend. We figured the charges would go through anyway, so we decided the best strategy was to plan for the upcoming battle rather than fly up there, only for a magistrate clerk to rubber stamp the case.
But Duncan sounded the most confident about getting the case thrown out Thursday, not that he made any promises. The odds are stacked against us, so there is a good chance this will lead to an arraignment, where we would be required to fly up there anyway.
But Duncan doesn’t come cheap. Most good attorneys don’t. He is charging $2,000 to attend the hearing on our behalf. Then he will charge $6,000 to attend three hearings after that if it does continue.
And that might not even include the actual trial, if it comes down to that. Nor does it include travel expenses.
I created the Indiegogo campaign to raise $2,200 in 24 hours (Indiegogo will take an almost $200 cut) to pay Duncan tomorrow, so he can get started preparing his argument.
I was going to hire Boston photographer Paul Weiskel to photograph the hearing, but the hearing is closed to the public to protect the accused, meaning I would have to file a motion to get a photographer in the hearing, and that could work against me considering I am already being accused of witness intimidation.
So while my journalistic sensibilities tell me I should go ahead with the photographer, my journalistic instincts tell me it’s best to listen to my lawyers. So no photographer for now, but that will change if it does lead to an actual charge and trial.
The charge against me, witness intimidation, is normally reserved for gang members who threaten witnesses with violence if they testify. All the attorneys I’ve spoken to were very surprised the Boston Police Department would use that charge on a journalist.
But if they get away with it now, you can be rest assured they will not only continue doing so, other police departments will start doing the same.
We’re hoping we can stop this nonsense dead in its tracks by Thursday, but if we don’t, we are prepared to go all out on them, even if we have to build up a team of more lawyers.
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After all, we must never let them forget that we, the people, have the right to petition government for a redress of grievances.
It says it right there in the First Amendment:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
And that’s what this blog has always been about: The First Amendment.
It has never been about intimidating witnesses. It’s been about holding police accountable for intimidating witnesses.
And that’s not going to stop just because the Boston Police Department have raised the stakes to a new level.