Peacemakers go to jail
"When I get tired, worn out from standing/sitting in for peace, accountability, and 'Healthcare' I will think of this wonderful person who suffers so for all of us. Please read the article and we will meet in the streets, at events, in jail." Joe Walsh-lone vet
Brian Terrell Goes To Court
Submitted by Chip on Fri, 2009-11-20 00:52.
Civil Rights / Liberties
Military Industrial Complex
Joy First writes:
Below is a brief filed with the Federal Court in Madison, WI by our good friend Brian Terrell. Brian was arrested with a group of activists at an action at Fort McCoy in Wisconsin on August 10, 2008. We went to court, were found guilty, and ordered to pay a fine. Brian has not paid the fine and so the prosecutor filed a motion with the court asking for 30 days in jail for Brian and others who did not pay the fine. This brief is Brian's response to the court.
We returned to Fort McCoy this past August 2009 and were arrested again. Following this arrest, four of us were illegally transported by military personnel to the Dane County jail in Madison and held overnight. We are pursuing this as a violation of Posse Comitatus. We have not been arraigned or heard anything from the court regarding our arrest in August 2009.
The statement from Brian is powerful and moving and inspires me to continue my work for peace and justice. Please share this with others.
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE WESTERN DISTRICT OF WISCONSIN
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
Case No. 08-po-1008-slc
OPPOSITION TO MOTION FOR RE-SENTENCING
On November 5, 2008, the United States of America, through Acting United States Attorney Stephen P. Sinnott, moved the court for an order re-sentencing me to a 30-day term of imprisonment, pursuant to 18 U.S.C. §3614. The grounds offered by the United States in support of its motion are clearly insufficient and the court is requested to deny the motion. My response to each of the grounds as listed by the United States, are as follows:
1. "On August 10, 2009, defendant received a violation notice for trespassing in violation of Monroe County Ordinance 20-10, as adopted by U.S.C.§13(a)." This allegation is not contested and by itself obligates the court to dismiss the government's motion. The fact that I was charged and ultimately convicted of a Monroe County Ordinance as adopted by U.S.C.§13(a) requires that any sentence or punishment meted out be in accord with Monroe County Ordinances. Those ordinances have specific provisions for nonpayment of fines that differ from 18 U.S.C.§3614 and that do not allow the court to impose the sentence requested by the government. Please note this from U.S.C.§13: "(a) Whoever within or upon any of the places now existing or hereafter reserved or acquired as provided in section 7 of this title, or on, above, or below any portion of the territorial sea of the United States not within the jurisdiction of any State, Commonwealth, territory, possession, or district is guilty of any act or omission which, although not made punishable by any enactment of Congress, would be punishable if committed or omitted within the jurisdiction of the State, Territory, Possession, or District in which such place is situated, by the laws thereof in force at the time of such act or omission, shall be guilty of a like offense and subject to a like punishment." (emphasis added). I ask the court to take notice that the government's motion is clearly not a request for a contempt order and should not be treated as such.
2. "On January 12, 2009, defendant was convicted after a bench trial." I and the other defendants convicted in this case were interrupted by police in our August 10, 2008, attempt to meet with and speak to members of the military training at Fort McCoy about their rights and obligation when called to serve by a government engaged in wars of aggression and other high crimes. Attempts made at trial by me and other defendants to raise issues of international law (for one example:The International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg, which followed World War II, called the waging of aggressive war "essentially an evil thing...to initiate a war of aggression...is not only an international crime; it is the supreme international crime, differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole.") and offer eye witness accounts of war crimes by the United States in Iraq and Afghanistan were suppressed by the court. Please note this from the Constitution of the United States, Article VI: "This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding." (emphasis added)
3. "Defendant failed to pay the fine." No doubt this is true.
4. "On July 17, 2009, the United States sent a letter to Mr. Terrell... " I got it.
5. "To date, defendant has neither paid the fine nor provided any proof of indigency." All true, but the court should note that I was never asked for such proof. In response to this unasked question, I offer that I have been unemployed since December, 2008. Our household in Maloy, Iowa, supports itself by subsistence farming and a small weaving business, augmented by occasional day labor and begging. We live well, if simply. If we would be considered "indigent" by any standard that the court might use, however, that fact is moot. I could come up with $75 if I needed to and my failure to pay is as willful as the United States alleges.
6. "In light of the nature of the offence and the characteristics of the person, no other alternatives to imprisonment are adequate to serve the purposes of punishment and deterrence." While this claim borrows from the language of 18U.S.C. §3614 and is apparently an essential element of the motion, the government offers no information supporting the truth of this allegation. The facts of the case prove that the government's assertion is patently false.
"In light of the nature of the offense... " What is the nature of this offence, this violation of Monroe County ordinances? Is not the nature of this offense that of the pettiest, most paltry, insignificant infractions in the legal lexicon? The court should take notice in considering the "nature of the offense" that it was nonviolent, causing no damage to property or disrespect to any person nor was it intended to enrich the defendants. It is also in the" nature of the offense" that I and the others cooperated with our arrests and answered our summonses to court, in my case traveling several hundreds of miles. The "nature of the offense" is that it is at worst a minor one that was committed by people of conscience attempting to prevent a greater harm. The government's claim that the nature of our particular "offense" is such that the court has "no other alternative" than to put us in jail is absurd and should be discounted as such.
"In light of... the characteristics of the person... " As "the person" in question, I wonder, what are the characteristics of mine the government's motion alludes to that preclude any alternatives to locking me in jail for 30 days? The government's assertion that a month in jail would serve as a deterrent disregards my public record. I have already spent many months in jails and prisons around the United States and abroad and any expectation that one or even six more would offer any deterrence is unsupportable, at best. The court should note that on May 27, 2008, I was sentenced to 10 days in the District of Columbia Jail for speaking up in the U.S. Supreme Court for habeas rights of prisoners in Guantanamo and my experience in that most appalling of cages did not deter me from acting in a like manner two months later at Fort McCoy. While threat of prison might deter the allegorical deer poachers at Fort McCoy that the court unflatteringly compared us to at trial, the government shows acute misunderstanding of the motives of people acting in conscience if it expects the same result in the present case. I also question the government's unsupported presumption that a month in jail would "serve the purposes of punishment" in this case and call to the court's attention the fable of Brer Rabbit and the briar patch. Another literary allusion I offer is from the Italian playwright and resister to fascism in his time, Ignazio Silone: "If your soul is at peace and without remorse, prison can even be a pleasant place for a rest. Fear of prison is a trick invented by the authorities to demoralize good Christians. Many acts of cowardice, in fact, are excused by the fear of ending in prison." At this point in history and at this point in my life, going to prison in such circumstances would not be punishment but a singular privilege and honor. In light of the nature of the offence and the characteristics of the person, imprisonment will not serve the purposes of punishment and deterrence.
The government's motion is misguided and misinformed on all counts. This motion is contrary to the intent of the statutes under which it is offered and the court is advised to reject it. If the United States is bent on a self-defeating course of punishing our dissent, the government's motion would still be an unnecessary formality and waste of resources. The extraordinary course that the government is pursuing in this case is not the only, nor the wisest, course available to it for dealing with such small matters.
President Obama pledges to continue and expand the crimes of his predecessor and calls for tens of thousands of more soldiers to Afghanistan. The National Guard in my home state Iowa is expected to supply more than 4,000 of these troops and most of these will be deployed from Fort McCoy. Unless there is unexpected repentance in Washington, I will be back at Fort McCoy in coming months. The court is most likely aware that I was arrested for trespassing at Fort McCoy again on August 9, 2009, and that to date charges have not been filed on this case. There will be opportunities in the near future to put me and my friends in jail if the United States of America wants to with or without the present motion.
In closing I stress that this brief is "respectfully submitted" and not just as a matter of form. It is regrettable that my harsh words concerning the crimes of the governments and courts will likely be taken as judgmental and for this I apologize. Our country and our planet are in peril and in these historically awful times it is important to speak clearly, even if harshly at times. I hope that you all understand that I see my own complicity and that I know that I am not innocent of the crimes of my nation. I do not write this to deflect my own responsibility or blame on to you or any agents of the court or the government. I offer this brief with an invitation to members of the court and the U.S. Attorney's office to join with us in accepting our common responsibility for the bloody mess that the world is in and in accepting our responsibility for acting boldly to set it right.
Dated November 19, 2009
Respectfully submitted with prayers for peace,
Brian Terrell Pro se
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