Friday, February 4, 2011

Police State Example Served Up Locally

This is an update to the following post: Is The U.S. Really A Police State?

Since the 9/11/2001 incident after George W. Bush took control of the United States government this country has sunk deeper into a lawless state of anarchy. The Ruling Elite, a small group of wealthy individuals and corporations encompassing all relevant political parties, has literally trashed the U.S. Constitution. That universal Law is only as good as the people make it. Unfortunately, they've decided the Rule of Man is more to their liking and subsequently have co-opted, corrupted and perverted the Law and the Courts with their arrogant, self-serving lawlessness. Glenn Greewald has a timely article today: Guantanamo death highlights U.S. detention policy - You may think that what happens to a few "rag-head" Arabs that supposedly hate our guts has nothing to do with you or your family and the long-held belief that our home is our castle and we are always safe there, you may want to re-think your beliefs.

Thursday's February 3, 2011, Times-Standard has an extremely revealing expose by Jeffrey Schwartz in the My Word: Up in arms: Search warrant folly. You may think the we are people with certain, guaranteed rights with honorable, decent and just men stationed in high offices to protect those rights. Armed to the teeth, masked gunmen can't just cave your door in sometime in the early morning, shouting police, drag you and your family out of bed, providing you didn't do something stupid, like trying to defend yourself and your family in your own home, on your own property, and get shot dead, or can they. Mr. Schwartz says they not only can, but do on a regular basis right here in Humboldt County.

Today we see people living in the more brutal, domineering totalitarian police states beginning to stand up for their personal and collective rights as equal human beings - both men and women. What's becoming more and more widespread in this country has been going on in these other countries for decades. All with American blessings. Considering the fact that Mr. Schwartz had the courage to write that article, making us all aware of what's going on in our names, tells me we won't wait decades to put a stop to this lawless corruption.

What puts everyone's life, liberty and citizenship in jeopardy is who Mr. Schwartz says is responsible for this, what I consider criminal conduct and perversion of the law, the gutless and sycophantic District Attorney and Superior Court Judges. They legitimize this outlandish police action, what amounts to a pure, raw act of terrorism, without any apparent substantive evidence of probable cause other than someone's unproven accusation. This situation puts everyone under the gun and at risk.

What is to stop anyone, an irate neighbor, a family member or anyone else from calling the police and telling them some wild, unsubstantiated lie about you? Mr. Schwartz says:
But if you own a handgun or rifle, just imagine this: A judge issued a warrant to search your house because someone you know saw you with it and they don't know whether or not you have a license to own it.
Sadly, Jeffrey Schwartz doesn't offer much hope for all of the common, law-abiding people that live in this county, other than to say:
"It remains to be seen if it is OK with the higher courts and juries in civil rights actions against law enforcement officers." [Emphasis added]
 "Higher courts." Our history tells us where that goes. Courts (Judges) protect themselves in these kinds of situation involving police power. And "juries in civil rights actions against law enforcement officer"? The problem is NOT with the "law enforcement officers." It is with the District Attorney and the Superior Court Judges.
For the complete article: Up in arms: Search warrant folly click the link or continue reading.

Up in arms: Search warrant folly
Jeffrey Schwartz/For the Times-Standard
Posted: 02/03/2011 09:37:51 AM PST
In the past year agents of the Humboldt County Firearms Task Force obtained numerous search warrants for several homes looking for illegal hunting rifles, ammo and handguns. The firearms task force agents had no idea whether any of the firearms were unlawful; they had merely received reports that the people living in the houses had weapons.

The weapons and ammo discovered in the homes were lawful. The legality of the firearms was not discovered until after the agents conducted early morning raids with guns blazing, front doors knocked down, children screaming, half-naked adults corralled in the living room, and a search and upheaval of every nook and cranny of the homes. The lead task force agent said in each case “sorry about that” and left the families and their homes devastated.

The agents did not act alone. The task force supervisors applied for search warrants that were first approved by the District Attorney's Office and then signed by a Superior Court judge.

We, as Humboldt County citizens living in the United States of America where we revere our guaranteed constitutional right to privacy, should be outraged and fighting mad that this kind of government conduct is allowed to happen and has been happening almost every day for the past 15 years here and all over California!

Hold on a minute. Did I say unlawful firearms? I meant unlawful marijuana. And did I say the firearms taskforce? I meant the Drug Task Force. But every other fact mentioned here happens just as I said: Time and again DTF agents and other law enforcement agents received reports of marijuana inside homes. They didn't know whether the marijuana was part of a lawful medical grow or an unlawful commercial grow. Based on scant information, the agents applied for warrants approved by the district attorney and a judge. With warrant in hand, they rammed down doors and pulled high-powered weapons on residents of our county. And they have been doing this for 15 years and counting, ever since the Marijuana Compassionate Use Act (Proposition 215) passed in 1996.

Sometimes the marijuana was unlawful, sometimes it was legal and sometimes the legality was unclear. But few of us would stand for this conduct if the police were looking for guns. Neither the district attorney nor the judges would approve a search warrant if presented with a statement that the task force agent wanted to search a home just to see if something in the house was lawful or unlawful. Any judge or DA, whether liberal or conservative, would laugh the task force agent out of his or her chambers and then report the agent to his or her superior.

But that's not the case when it comes to marijuana, which is lawful for medical purposes. The law enforcement community believes it can invade your privacy to determine whether your actions are legal even though there is no federal constitutional authority to do so. The United States Supreme Court has repeatedly held that once state statutes give you a right, you are entitled to the procedural protections of the constitution. That includes the right to privacy.

The constitutional problem would be cured if prosecutors and judges asked law enforcement agents one simple question before issuing a warrant: “Do you have any reason to believe the marijuana is not for medical purposes?”

Prosecutors and judges are on shaky constitutional ground if they sign these warrants without asking that question. Law enforcement agents are in worse shape because they are subject to civil rights violations and monetary penalties if they execute on these warrants. But then again, they know that the likelihood of getting sued for invading the privacy of medical marijuana patients is low.

Maybe some people just write off this reality to the politics of marijuana. It remains to be seen if it is OK with the higher courts and juries in civil rights actions against law enforcement officers.

But if you own a handgun or rifle, just imagine this: A judge issued a warrant to search your house because someone you know saw you with it and they don't know whether or not you have a license to own it.

Jeffrey Schwartz is a local attorney representing medical marijuana patients and others, and is the director of Humboldt Center for Constitutional Rights. He can be reached at or at

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