I arrived at the Federal Courthouse in Tallahassee, Florida with my friend Ashli, and we found a parking place right in front. I was immediately struck by the ease of this endeavor; my experience in other government buildings has been a paid garage or a long walk, due to the hub of activity. I would later learn that there was a reason for this.
The bulk of those involved in the federal justice system know that there is no justice inside those walls. Libertarians, however, are always there when a cause that seems lost or hopeless to the masses is in need of championing. So we dug around and found some quarters for the meter, and sent a text to my friend’s wife so we could meet up before we entered.
You sometimes hear the offices of judges referred to as “chambers.” I think it is a good word for that place: “chambers.” It invokes a place where people are gassed to death, or where mangled corpses are stacked like cordwood to be disposed of. It can also invoke a vessel used to hold urine and feces, the chamber pot, an appropriate metaphor for what lies behind the walls of a US District Courthouse.
We discussed our plans on the way. I gave her my phone password so she could record the proceeding on the sly, to show the public what a kangaroo court looks like. The judge stated that things like community involvement and charitable activity and other character-related issues would be given consideration when setting bond. I was there in hopes of speaking to the judge about this man’s volunteer charity work with me, helping abused children. I wanted to share how I first met him after seeing videos he regularly produces, in which he encourages other former convicts to avoid the pitfalls of drugs and recidivism, and to lift themselves and their families up, and to become a part of their community. I planned to join him at Constitutional Revision Commission hearings, where he was to speak about issues involving criminal justice and rehabilitation programs. I had tapped him and his inspiration to help with a pilot program I am building to help former felons (in particular, those convicted of crimes with no victim), restore their civil rights, and help take part in reformation of the broken system that stole their rights in the first place. Perhaps by coincidence, perhaps by design, he was arrested the night before we were to meet.
They saw us coming a mile away. Our phones were not allowed, only the attorneys may have a phone inside a federal courtroom. I was even forced to remove my sport coat and take my empty shoulder holster off. All items were to be put in one of a series of lockers and the only thing I had on my pockets was its tiny, blunt key as I walked into the courtroom. The public must not be allowed to record audio or video. No unofficial record, no account of the activities therein will ever see the light of day, that cannot be written off as hearsay by the slavemasters. Even Ashli’s jewelry was left behind.
We met with my friend’s wife and family, and his court-appointed attorney in the hallway. I explained who I was, and my desire to speak on his behalf, in hopes he would be allowed to continue to work and support his family while he defended himself against the charges. I then received my first clue as to why I was one of the only people inside that massive structure who was not a prosecutor, bailiff, defendant, judge, or defense attorney. As I explained my desire to help to the public defender, he began to shake his head. He said, “there is no chance of his being released on bond”. In other words, the judge was a liar, this house of treason is ruled by the Beast, and the statements made, along with the declarations of the defendant’s rights and privileges, were all for show.
In 1972 the federal conviction rate was 75%. By 1992 it had risen to 85%. In 2012, the federal conviction rate was 93%. (1) The defendant is threatened with a longer sentence if they do not confess and enter a plea of guilty. The prospect of having almost no chance at trial leads most to plead guilty, even if they are not. Today if we look at the statistics of those accused as an enemy of the federal government, between guilty pleas and trials, the conviction rate was 99.8% in U.S. federal courts. There were twenty federal judicial districts that had a 100% conviction rate in 2015.(2) My friend does not stand a snowballs chance in hell, and nobody else does either.
The message is clear and chilling. Oppose the system, and you will be utterly destroyed. If it so much as accuses you, get your affairs in order. If you think that ANY government agency is right 99.8% of the time, I have a mountain cabin in Florida I would love to sell you, sight unseen. To add insult to the rape of Lady Justice, over half of these people are convicted of mere possession of flowers or powders, or some other such “contraband”.
Each defendant yesterday, in the portion where the judge listed the penalties they faced, had listed 5-10 years of supervised release, among the penalties. Most had $100.00 a month for monitoring as well. Get laid off 8 years after release and miss a payment? Violation. Almost any minor accusation during that time? Violation. You are not entitled to be free from unreasonable search and seizure during that time. They may search you or test you for drugs or alcohol any time, or any place. If they plant evidence, it is the convict’s word against the state agent’s. The same conviction rate used to force a hopeless plea of guilty, is also used to blackmail those without honor into becoming a modern Judas. Given the choice of no hope, the unprincipled among us become informants to avoid certain doom, and the Beast is fed yet again.
The first man presented to the court shuffled in with his leg shackles on. The bailiff had fatigue pants. He was a lefty, judging by the placement of his Glock. His t-shirt had a man in a cowboy hat with a large revolver, pointing it menacingly, and a bible verse from Psalms. I do not think the quoted verse was supposed to be about killing people. The unprofessional nature of his garb was a stark contrast to the clinical air of legitimacy in the rest of the scene they tried to set. The charges were read. 5-40 years for possession of more than 500 grams of cocaine. That is just over 1 pound of purified leaf extract from a plant growing in central and south America.
I wondered if the CIA brought it into the US or if his supplier was their competitor and they shut him down for that reason. The next charge was possession of an undetermined amount of methamphetamine, 20 years. The next charge was the possession of Fentanyl and Tramadol, 5 years. He apparently exercised his rights under the 2nd Amendment to the United States Constitution while he kept this “contraband” in his possession, this was worth 5 more years. It is, of course absurd. My brother in law was among at least 8 people who died recently in Jacksonville due to heroin laced with Fentanyl. Prescription drugs kill more people than all other drugs combined. Yet this man faces 5 years for the one thing that is killing people, and 60 for the cocaine and meth most of these federal prosecutors snort in the bathrooms of bars after work.
Facing between 35 and 70 years for having the amount of “contraband” you could fit in a grocery bag, he shuffled back through the door towards the holding cell. I was haunted most of the evening by his wistful glance over his shoulder, soaking in the last look at anything other than a cell block he would see for decades. It will probably continue to haunt me for a long time.
Next they brought in my friend. To the public defender representing him, it was all in a day’s work. They whispered back and forth a few moments. The hopeless, and thus pointless, charade of a bond hearing was waived. He held up 10 fingers to us, his family and friends, the number of years he will do, roughly 85% of the 12 years the Beast was seeking. This was only the bond hearing, but everyone knows the sentence will be whatever the Beast wants. There will be no fair trial. The kangaroo court will not be filmed. You will file your taxes within the next 15 days to pay for the Beast, or end up there yourself, in those same shackles, in that same courtroom, without hope.
My friend called out to us and smiled, his usual positive self, as his turn to shuffle back to his cell in shackles came—“It will be OK” he yelled.
We all know the truth: nothing is OK.