To each and every American who finds themselves on the receiving end of a criminal investigation, indictment, or engaged with an attorney related to such, I encourage you to gain a full understanding of what you are charged with, what the government has to prove to convict you and the law and legal precedent regarding your case. It is a matter of life and death. Never put your full faith and trust in the system or into any attorney in matters that affect your very life and liberty. American's have been mentally conditioned to believe that defense attorneys are advocates for your constitutional rights and will aggressively defend your interests. I have found that most defense attorneys are self-serving shysters that are more concerned about their careers, political standing and reputation in the legal community.
Some of the statements I heard from attorneys in our case was from "the government can do anything they want to do" to "we don't want to make the government's FBI witness look like a liar" to "we don't want to offend the judge by making that challenge" to "we don't want to do that, we have to live here" to "we don't want to piss the judge off" to "it doesn't matter if she has proof she is innocent, she will get some prison time." This last statement was a prediction by one of our defense attorney's related to my sister Lawanna Clark who was later sentenced to six months in prison by Judge Christine M. Arguello after providing proof of her innocence. As you can see your interest's and rights are secondary to their personal interests. Many of them possess defeatist attitudes, especially in cases brought by the federal government. Giving total deference to attorney's for knowing what is best for you legally or for your life can have deadly consequences to you and your family. Ignorance truly is bliss and you cannot afford to be ignorant in the matters concerning your life and liberty.
You must conduct legal research from other sources. This will help you ask the right questions of your attorney. Many attorneys have an attitude that their clients are dumb and incapable of understanding what the law says. The courts also allow them to determine strategy and tactics on how the case will be prosecuted and what evidence will be presented in court. If their strategy and tactics fail and you totally deferred to their expertise, you could be headed to prison on their terms, not yours. In some sense, you are actually giving up your rights when you have an attorney, including your First Amendment right to speak unless you choose to testify. Your attorney will speak for you during the trial. You are not allowed to object, however, you can ask your attorney to object but it his discretion to do so. You can ask him to present certain evidence but if he doesn't want to or think it is important, he does not have to. We, speaking for the IRP6, fired our attorney's, some of us multiple times, and have absolutely no regrets whatsoever. There is a warped sense of thinking in the American legal community that you should fully trust your attorney, who is in most cases is a complete stranger.
Where else in life would you fully trust the advice of a stranger you just met? NO WHERE! My experience with our legal system as a part of the IRP6 has impassioned me to provide U.S. citizen's independent resources they can use to gain more education on the legal system, understanding of their constitutional rights and/or the law associated with a case that they or their family may be involved in. This would not be legal advice but equip citizens with requisite knowledge needed to fully understand the workings of our justice system so they can hold our judiciary and legal professionals accountable for their conduct. The law is hardly rocket science even though there are complex technical issues of law. You don't have to be an attorney to understand much of it and you definitely need to understand your constitutional rights. Don't believe the hype and mantra that American justice is the best in the world. A justice system is only as good as the people running it. While there are good judges, prosecutors and defense attorneys, you might have an easier time looking for the proverbial needle in the haystack. That is what my personal experience in the IRP6 case has taught me. I must help American's understand their rights and that is why I blog. Now to the final part in this series.
In Part 2 of this series the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS), through their written opinions, made it clear that the public and the accused have a First Amendment right to access court records. Part 2 also highlighted IRP6's constitutional right to access original court reporter's records that are necessary to prove misconduct by a judge and discussed a seminal case in the 11th Circuit (Hansen v. United States, 956 F.2d 245 (1992)), where the appellant, Hansen, was appropriately granted access to the court reporter's original audio tape to prove retaliatory statements made by the trial judge resulted in an unconstitutional sentence. As you know, the IRP6 have been denied access to court records in their case which is not only a violation of their First Amendment, but also a violation of their 5th Amendment right of due process.
Due Process is defined by Black's Law Dictionary as "The conduct of legal proceedings according to established rules and principles for the protection and enforcement of private rights. The Due Process Clause is the constitutional provision that prohibits the government from unfairly or arbitrarily depriving a person of life, liberty or property.
WISDOM OF SCOTUS
1. In Mayer v. City of Chicago, 404 U.S. 189 (1971), SCOTUS concluded: "[An] appellant cannot be denied a 'record of sufficient completeness' to permit proper considerations of his claims...and prejudicial [judicial] misconduct cannot be fairly judged without recourse to the trial record."
2. Hardy v. United States, 375 U.S. 277 (1964), stated: "[a] record of sufficient completeness...mean[s] 'the portion of the transcript of proceedings which relates to the 'conclusory allegations' made by the defendant..." The Hardy court also recognized that a transcript is "the most basic and fundamental tool" of effective appellate advocacy.
3. In Ake v. Oklahoma, 470 U.S. 68 (1985), SCOTUS explained that appellants must have "an adequate opportunity to present their claims fairly within the adversary system." The Ake court further expounded that the [5th] Amendment's due process guarantee of fundamental fairness requires that a criminal defendant be provided with "the opportunity to participate meaningfully in a judicial proceeding in which his liberty is at stake."
4. Gardner v. California, 393 U.S. 367 (1969) stated that it is a criminal defendant's "access to the record which makes appellate review meaningful..."
OTHER APPELLATE COURT PRONOUNCEMENTS
In U.S. v. Smith, 292 F.3d 90 (1st Cir. 2002), the First Circuit opined that "DUE PROCESS...requires that a 'criminal appellant be provided with a record of sufficient completeness to permit proper consideration of his claims.'"
In Ennis v. LeFevre, 560 F.2d 1072 (2nd Cir. 1977), the Second Circuit held "the right to a record of sufficient completeness does not exist in the abstract; rather, it exists in order to ensure that the accused will have an adequate opportunity to present specific, individual claims."
In United States v. Blas Chavez, 862 F.2d 1436 (10th Cir. 1988), the Tenth Circuit in addressing a denial of due process related to missing transcripts portions, stated: "While violation of the [Court Reporter's Act] by itself is not grounds for relief, however, 'if a denial of appellant's rights [IRP6's 5th Amendment] in some other respect were alleged, the absence of the record might be a significant factor in determining whether in all the circumstances there had been a denial of fundamental fairness.'"
Many of the SCOTUS cases specifically address transcript requests from indigent/poor defendants who could not afford to purchase a transcript. SCOTUS required that lower courts could not discriminate against a poor defendant by denying him a transcript to present his claims on appeal when he could not pay. The key point in these rulings is that ALL CITIZENS, rich or poor, have a right to present their claims and participate meaningfully in a judicial proceeding in which their liberty is at stake and therefore must be provided with a "record of sufficient completeness" to present those claims. The IRP6 have been denied a record of sufficient completeness to present their claims which according to SCOTUS and courts across the nation is a violation of due process. This violation is exceptionally cruel since the IRP6 could not "meaningfully participate" or challenge judicial misconduct in a proceeding where our liberty was at stake. As a result we have languished in prison for the past 22 months, simply because the courts denied us a record of sufficient completeness. As you can see the issues in the IRP6 case are all matters of clear, well-settled law from SCOTUS dating back to 1956 to every federal appeals circuit in the country. Retired federal appellate court Judge H. Lee Sarokin, reviewed court records in the IRP6 case and issued his opinion that the IRP6's 5th Amendment right was clearly violated by the trial court and could not understand how the IRP6 remain in prison. Judge Sarokin's conclusions are founded in SCOTUS case law.
SCOTUS held in Glasser v. United States, 315 U.S. 60, that "[t]here is a presumption against the waiver of constitutional rights, and for a waiver to be effective, it must be clearly established that there was 'an intentional relinquishment or abandonment of a known right or privilege.' Johnson v. Zerbst 304 U.S. 458".
It is inconceivable and implausible that the appeals court responsible for the IRP6 case is not well-versed or knowledgeable in the law mentioned herein. They know the law and SCOTUS precedent as well as Judge Sarokin so why do they leave the IRP6 in prison? Retaliation! Just like in trial judge in the Hansen case. In the book, Tyranny of Good Intentions by Paul Craig Roberts and Lawrence M. Stratton, they explain that "by law, a person who fights a federal charge receives a longer sentence, if found guilty, than he would receive if he pled guilty to the charge." We remain in prison because we fight the legitimacy of the actions of the courts and judicial officials that put us here. It is the American way of justice. I encourage all of you to purchase a copy of Tyranny of Good Intentions. I will be discussing the book and applying it to the issues in the IRP6 case in future blogs. The IRP6 will continue to fight and I thank everyone that has provided support to the IRP6 cause.
Judge Sarokin's opinion, titled "The Case of the Missing Transcript", can be found at www.huffingtonpost.com/judge-h-lee-sarokin/