The writ of habeas corpus is the fundamental instrument for safeguarding individual freedom against arbitrary and lawless state action.

The US City of Baltimore In Action: An Account Passed On By The Tramp Abroad

Does habeas corpus not apply in Maryland (Baltimore)? It does, but…it can be slow to the point of unconstitutional. That said, it’s great to see that Public Defenders are doing just that — defending the public.

The writer, Marci Tarrant Johnson, made this Facebook posting public.

OK…here it is…

I’m going to try to keep this as brief as I can, but I’ve been asked by several people about Central Booking today, so I’ll give you guys the shocking highlights. As much as I’d like to, I can’t describe the particulars of some of the more egregious arrests, due to attorney/client privilege issues, but I would like to describe the Civil Liberties violations, and the deplorable conditions which people have had to endure.

As many of you know, more than 250 people have been arrested since Monday here in Baltimore. Normally when you are arrested, you are given a copy of your charging documents and then you must see a commissioner within 24 hours for a bail determination (“prompt presentment”) and given a trial date. If you are not released after the commissioner hearing, you will be brought before a judge for a review of the bail set by the commissioner. None of this was happening, so we sent some lawyers to Central Booking yesterday to try to help. I heard, however, that only 2 commissioners showed up, and the correctional officers only brought about 9 people to be interviewed because the jail was on a mysterious “lock-down”.

Today we were divided into two groups. Some of the lawyers were assigned the task of actually doing judicial bail reviews for as many folks as they could get interviewed and docketed. I was assigned to the other group. We were the “habeas team”, and we were to interview folks that we felt were being illegally detained, so we could file writs of habeas corpus. Governor Hogan had issued an executive order, extending the time for prompt presentment to 47 hours. We believed that this order was invalid because the governor has no authority to alter the Maryland Rules. As a result, all people who were being detained for more than 24 hours without seeing a commissioner were being held illegally.

Knowing all of this, I was still not prepared for what I saw when I arrived. The small concrete booking cells were filled with hundreds of people, most with more than ten people per cell. Three of us were sent to the women’s side where there were up to 15 women per holding cell. Most of them had been there since Monday afternoon/evening. With the exception of 3 or 4 women, the women who weren’t there for Monday’s round-ups were there for freaking curfew violations. Many had not seen a doctor or received required medication. Many had not been able to reach a family member by phone. But here is the WORST thing. Not only had these women been held for two days and two nights without any sort of formal booking, BUT ALMOST NONE OF THEM HAD ACTUALLY BEEN CHARGED WITH ANYTHING. They were brought to CBIF via paddy wagons (most without seat belts, btw–a real shocker after all that’s happened), and taken to holding cells without ever being charged with an actual crime. No offense reports. No statements of probable cause. A few women had a vague idea what they might be charged with, some because of what they had actually been involved in, and some because of what the officer said, but quite a few had no idea why they were even there. Incidentally, I interviewed no one whose potential charges would have been more serious than petty theft, and most seemed to be disorderly conduct or failure to obey, charges which would usually result in an immediate recog/release.

The holding cells are approximately 10×10 (some slightly larger), with one open sink and toilet. The women were instructed that the water was “bad” and that they shouldn’t drink it. There are no beds–just a concrete cube. No blankets or pillows. The cells were designed to hold people for a few hours, not a few days. In the one cell which housed 15 women, there wasn’t even enough room for them all to lay down at the same time. Three times a day, the guards brought each woman 4 slices of bread, a slice of American cheese and a small bag of cookies. They sometimes got juice, but water was scarce, as the CO’s had to wheel a water cooler through every so often (the regular water being “broken”.)

My fellow attorneys and I all separately heard the same sickening story over and over. None of the women really wanted to eat 4 slices of bread 3 times a day, so they were saving slices of bread TO USE AS PILLOWS. Let me say that again. THEY WERE ALL USING BREAD AS PILLOWS SO THAT THEY WOULDN’T HAVE TO LAY THEIR HEADS ON THE FILTHY CONCRETE FLOOR.

Interviewing these women was emotionally exhausting. Quite a few of them began crying–so happy to finally see someone who might know why they were there, or perhaps how they might get out of this Kafkaesque nightmare. These women came from all walks of life. We interviewed high school students, college students, people with graduate degrees, people with GED’s, single women, married women, mothers, the well-employed, the unemployed, black women and white women. Almost all of them had no record. Those that did, had things like dui’s and very minor misdemeanors. Our group didn’t interview any of the men on the other side, but my colleagues reported very similar situations. On the men’s side there were journalists and activists, as well as high school kids with no records, barely 18 years old.

As we were getting ready to leave, we heard that many of these folks might be released without charges, after being held for two days. When we returned to the office, our amazing “habeas fellow”, Zina Makar, singlehandedly filed 82 habeas petitions. That is when we heard that 101 people were released without charges. I’d like to think that the amazing legal response to this injustice played a large part in their release, and I feel privileged to have been a part of it. They may be charged later, but I’m guessing most of them won’t based on how minor their alleged infractions are. There are still over a hundred folks in there that need to see a commissioner and/or a judge, but hopefully we have thinned the ranks a little, and we will keep fighting until everyone has received due process. (We are concerned about these folks’ potential bails, as we are hearing about bails in the hundreds of thousands of dollars for misdemeanor charges).

I’ll wrap this up by reminding everyone that all lives matter. We are all human beings. And we are Americans, and as such we are afforded protections under the law, the guilty and innocent alike. If one person is denied due process, we all suffer. If one person’s rights and freedoms are trampled on, it’s not only a reflection on all of us, but it puts our own liberty at risk. The moment we view some individuals as more important than others, we cheapen ourselves. At the very essence of our democracy is the right to question and stand up to authority. During these trying times, we should all keep that in mind.

I’ll leave you with a beautiful picture that was taken today of one of the women who was released without charges. Her husband had been waiting outside CBIF trying to find something…ANYTHING out about when she might be charged or released. This was taken moments after she walked out the door…..


More from Marci:

Yesterday, I posted about my experiences at CBIF. I changed the status to “public” as many of you wanted to repost for your friends. I do have a request, though. If you are a member of the press, please ask my permission before publishing it anywhere other than your personal page. Also, I would like to reiterate that we did not take the beautiful photo. I’m not sure who gets the the photo cred. Thank you!!!

Again — please no reposts on press sites without my express permission. Also, the post speaks for itself. Please don’t try to entice people to read it by mischaracterizing it or misquoting it. Thank you!

OK, folks. Media re-posts have been approved, provided they do not do any edits without my approval. On another note, I just answered a gazillion amazing messages from people all over the country and the world. I’m really encouraged at all the positive feedback, and how caring and concerned everyone is.

To all of my Irish and Irish-American friends out there — I apologize for my use of the term “paddy wagon” in my post. It never occurred to me that it was an ethnic slur (although I do get why), as it is the primary way in which the police vans are referred to in Baltimore….I will try to remember not to use it in future interviews/posts, but I cannot promise I won’t slip once or twice. I’ll do my very best and hopefully I didn’t offend anyone. Much Love

Hey Everyone!!!

I never expected my post to go to so viral, and the positive responses I’m getting are overwhelming. I have received supportive messages from all over the world. I wish I had a way to share them with my fellow Public Defenders, who deserve so much credit for everything they do for their clients every single day. In addition to doing quite a few interviews, I am going through hundreds of messages and emails now, trying to answer each one but it’s going to take some time. If we are personal friends, and you need to reach me about something unrelated to the events of the last few days, it might be good to shoot me an email or text, as I don’t want your correspondence to get lost in all of these posts.

I just wanted to thank a few people for being amazing. First, when I originally wrote my post, I gave all of the habeas credit to our Fellow, Zina Makar. While Zina has been working her butt off, and deserves a ton of credit, I had spent all afternoon at CBIF yesterday and had no idea the number of folks who came to our office to help with the habeas petitions. People came in from all over the city and other counties to help prepare and file all of those habeas petitions, and I’m not sure they received any credit for it. You guys are so awesome and I am blessed and privileged to work with such a group of dedicated lawyers.

Also, when I wrote my post, I did not know who had taken that BEAUTIFUL picture of the recently released woman and her husband, as I had pulled it from a live blog of the protest activity. I now know that the photo was taken by J.M.Giordano, the same City Paper photographer that was beaten by the police on the night of the 25th, while his fellow journalist yelled “He’s press!!! He’s press!!!” (I think I actually posted that video the day after it happened. Police had mistakenly believed that he was with a group of young men who threw a rock at them, when he was actually photographing the encounter). I am not personal friends with Mr. Giordano, but if anyone else is, please let him know how much I appreciate being able to use his moving and powerful photo.

One more thing–the tenor of the messages I have received has been so positive it has really renewed my faith in humanity. I have received so many thanks and offers of help, as well as some amazing personal stories that people wanted to share. I wish I had a way to share all of these with my fellow attorneys. Thank you so much everyone–much love.



Half-Measures Are…Puzzling

The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) is relocating its headquarters to a cave inside Cheyenne Mountain, which is in the US state of Colorado. The reason: the probability that North Korea or Iran will attack the USA with a single, small nuclear weapon and thereby destroy the electric grid and virtually all electronic communications in North America.

The careful reader will note that NORAD, though itself safe, would be unable to communicate with its outlying — and presumably unprotected — units if an EMP were to strike. The only way to retain a capable defensive force, in other words, is to detect, target, and destroy the incoming missile before it can detonate in position over the USA. That’s a huge technological challenge.

Unfortunately a global catastrophic EMP can also be produced by the sun (see this). The result would doom the majority of people living in North America. Now: if the military recognizes the threat of EMP atomic bombs, isn’t it time for the civilian government to recognize that a precedented modern solar Carrington Event could literally set all surviving mankind back to the Bronze Age? Preparing to block that would also be preparing for enemy EMP attacks.

Links Courtesy Of The Tramp Abroad

I don’t know that I can agree with all of this, but some of it makes sense.

The USA’s largest silent ethnic group is made up of those of German ancestry, as the links explain: One, Two. and Three.

RTE’s government could not prevent people from turning out for this peaceful demonstration.

If ships could talk, doubtless … the GSF Explorer (formerly the Glomar Explorer) could spill some CIA secrets.

An eagle out fishing. (Ed.: superb photographic technique — great results!)

Does anyone really need a hand-held mobile telephone device that can handle up to 2TB of data storage? I speculate that it has come to this because the new Android (Linux) OS Version 5.1 can address up to that much memory. Just think: if a micro-SD card (the size of your pinkie fingernail) can hold 2TB of data, how much information can a massive building full of data storage equipment hold? Unfathomable….

This is hilariously funny…but all too true.

Ordinary Links

Here is an example of how some people try to go around the news media and get the attention of the public. It is not trivial.

Jews in the USA generally support Israel, and many are “progressives”. Commentary is an exception: it’s pro-Israel, and closer to the “wingnut” end of the political spectrum. For example, read what the publication has to say about Hillary.

Reader JY provides an example of the ability of the press to make anthropogenic global warming responsible for unrelated disasters. It’s the modern equivalent of witchcraft trials….

This is one of the main reasons the myth of anthropogenic global warming is so seductive: the rebuttal of the guilt fantasy is literally hard to understand. Accordingly, focus on the graphs found at the link. They predict nothing but variability within a range of possibilities, in spite of the fact that an approaching ice age would be a pretty good guess.

Has it been only twenty years? Your editor recalls getting the news of Jerry’s passing from the front page of the Bangkok Post. Ah, well.

How is Hillary going to cope with questions like this? Or this? And how about this? She will dismiss them all with a hefty heap of hauteur, of course.

“Wingnut” Jade Helm propaganda is to be found here and here. Where are they getting this stuff? From sources such as this, which takes the Jade Helm theme, amplifies and elaborates on it, and passes it along. Clearly, Obama’s secrecy, bizarre background, quirky misbehavior (including lots of unconstitutional orders and just ordinary deceit), and scary, autocratic demeanor all contributed to the conspiracy theorists’ fantasies. Obama is unqualified to be the president, but he’s not quite what his most imaginative enemies imagine him to be. Yes, he’s worried about his legacy, and that’s not at all good (he did tacitly promise a fundamental restructuring of US politics and society, as well as income redistribution). But he can always blame his failures on Congress, and he’s not going to use the military to stage a coup. Even he knows US presidents can’t do that.

A view of Obama’s message on “climate change”: “Both the president and Mr. Kerry cited rapidly warming global temperatures and ever-more-severe storms caused by climate change as reasons for urgent action. Given that for the past decade and a half global-temperature increases have been negligible, and that the worsening-storms scenario has been widely debunked, the pronouncements from the Obama administration sound more like scare tactics than fact-based declarations.” Source, which is behind a pay wall — so read the article here, on the page for Friday, April 24, 2015. The One Leader’s remarks seem a bit odd, don’t they?

The news media tend to portray it as a war between young black men and the cops. Says the Wall Street Journal commentator Daniel Henninger: “For the length of the Obama presidency, with growth significantly below norm, unemployment for blacks aged 24 and younger has hovered between 30% and 50%. That’s the real powder keg, not the police.” Isn’t that economic determinism? Sort of; but an impactcan be real, though not deterministic. Attempts to bloat the supply of non-English-speaking labor (those “illegal aliens”) and militarize the police won’t help, so…never mind; now everybody join hands and chant “Yes we can!”

Where is Google headed? This view warns that the behemoth appears to favor a search engine that does not respect free speech.

In New York, posters target Muslims who want to kill Jews. Some people object…

…while others ask the world to think about the codes of speech that reformers try to impose. Why is it that proponents of redemptive change always define their goals in terms that emphasize the need to repress the speech of the individual? Answer: because the utility of authoritarian governance — fascism — is so obvious. (The hyperlink connects to a suite of videos prepared by The Reason Foundation. The initial video is the one suggested by this newsletter, but if you watch more, you will find a mother lode of political wisdom.)

One of the problems faced by those who look objectively at claims asserting the reality of anthropogenic global warming is how to express their views both accurately and simply. Here’s an example of that struggle to be understood. Yes, statistics is an arcane discipline; that’s no excuse for bad science, of course, but it does help to explain why rascals can on occasion get away with outrageous claims.

US friends of Israel wonder why Obama and Kerry are misbehaving.

Mark Levin asks “wingnuts” to reconsider the Bush dynasty. What are the main themes, the propulsive goals, that describe the clan? Have you ever considered that?