Entering The Nonsensical World Of Federal District Court
As I entered the rectangular metal detector, passing through the security at the entrance to the federal district court in Las Vegas, I was reminded of Alice Through the Looking Glass (mirror) where, after passing through the mirror, what is right is left, where up is down, or as Alice put it, “Nothing would be what it is, because everything would be what it isn’t. And contrary wise, what is, it wouldn’t be. And what it wouldn’t be, it would.”
Likewise, in federal district court, I have observed what Alice observed: Where innocence is guilt and guilt is innocence, where punishment is non-punishment, where speedy is slow, where illusion is reality, where protections for the accused are replaced by protections for the accuser, where sexual abuse is security and safety, where oaths to tell the truth are licenses to tell lies. The world of the federal district court is a world of inconsistencies and contradictions.
Innocence is Guilt
On November 14, 2017, as federal Judge Navarro read instructions to the jury, she stated very emphatically, “The defendants are to be presumed innocent and you are not to come to any conclusions about guilt until you have heard all the facts admitted to you.”
However, the previous day, in denying Ammon Bundy’s motion for release from prison, Navarro read from her original order in which she ordered pre-trial prison for Ammon and other defendants. Navarro quoted the order in which she declared that there was “clear and convincing evidence” that Ammon Bundy was a danger to society and a flight risk and no condition nor combination of conditions were adequate and sufficient to guarantee Ammon would not be a danger to the community nor a flight risk while awaiting trial.
Ammon and other defendants are being charged with being dangerous, of using threats, intimidation and at the point of a gun barrel, preventing federal employees from engaging in their lawful duties.
In the nonsensical world of Navarro, she declares him innocent until proven guilty, while at the same time, declares him to be too dangerous, as charged, to be free while preparing for trial. In the Alice in Wonderland world of Navarro, Ammon is not alleged to be dangerous, he is, by clear and convincing evidence, guilty of the charges brought by the prosecution and she has declared Ammon guilty as charged, pending trial, and has thrown Ammon (and the others) into prison until he can later prove his innocence to her in a detention hearing.
Making Clear and Convincing More Unclear and Unconvincing
As Navarro quoted from her earlier order that originally condemned Ammon and others to over 650 days of pretrial prison, she declared that it was by clear and convincing evidence of dangerousness that she had justified their imprisonment. However, she never said what that clear and convincing evidence was on which she presumed guilt until they could be proven innocent.
Essentially, like the Queen of Hearts of Alice in Wonderland, her mere say so was sufficient and “off with his head” or “off to prison” needed nothing more than her discretion and her opinion to trigger her henchmen to enforce her orders.
Adding insult to injury, Navarro backed up her unsubstantiated claims of clear and convincing evidence of dangerousness by citing Ammon’s behavior while in court imposed prison in which he was accused of committing 11 violations of prison rules, violations deemed by the private, for profit prison to be of a grave and serious nature.
The violations? Taking a prison library thumb drive with him to protect the many hours of trial preparation and of discovery essential for his defense that, if left in the library, was subject to tampering and erasure. Putting a T-shirt over his eyes to sleep in the glaring lights of the prison dormitory and arguing with a prison guard about it. Refusing to voluntarily undress for strip searches and their attendant sexual violation. Not threatening to be violent or physically resist, but to merely lay passive while prison guards undress him for their sexual abuse.
All these violations formed the basis of Navarro’s denial of pretrial release and her declaration that “no condition nor combination of conditions” could assure that Ammon would not be a danger to the community.
Closely related to Alice’s world of nonsense, is what is known as a Catch 22.
An example is:
“How am I supposed to gain experience [to find a good job] if I’m constantly turned down for not having any?”
The catch 22 for Ammon was that he was not supposed to be in pretrial prison to start with, he was not convicted and therefore protected by all the Bill of Rights, including freedom from unreasonable, sexually abusive cavity and naked body searches.
Yet, like the Queen of Hearts, Navarro is punishing Ammon for exercising his rights as an innocent citizen which paradoxically and unavoidably violate prison rules. Navarro has declared to the jury that Ammon is innocent unitl proven guilty while at the same time subjecting him to the restrictions and horrors of prison that prevent him from proving his innocence and preparing a defense.
“How can I defend myself with all my defense stored on a thumb drive which is subject to being erased by other prisoners or prison staff?” The very definition of Catch 22.
Illusion is Reality
Ammon Bundy is quoted as saying, “The beautiful thing about the truth, is that it so easy to tell.”
Applying that to himself, without any disrespect for the other defendants or any judgment of them, Ammon, along with Cliven, has chosen to appear in court with his orange prison inmate apparel.
For Ammon, the reality is that he is wrongfully imprisoned, the reality is that he is being treated like a convicted prisoner. The orange prison apparel screams at the jury and all the world the truth! Opposite of what Navarro is telling the jury about a presumption of innocence, there sits Ammon in his orange prison garb, found guilty already by Navarro until he can maybe prove his innocence.
Let us pray for the day that Ammon and the others will step through the looking glass (mirror) and enter a world of justice and truth, as free men.
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