No Right to Remain Silent

<table><tr><td>From <a href="http://www.thestranger.com/seattle/no-right-to-remain-silent/Content?oid... Stranger</a> - by BRENDAN KILEY

<em>A Third Northwest Activist Who Hasn’t Been Accused of a Crime Is Sent to Federal Prison</em>

<p>Last week, Portland resident Leah-Lynn Plante spent the first of what could be more than 500 nights in prison for refusing to testify before a federal grand jury about people she <em>might</em> know who <em>might</em> have been involved with the political vandalism in Seattle on May Day.</p>

<p>That's a lot of nights for a couple of mights.</p>

<p>Plante has not been charged with a crime. In fact, the court granted her immunity, meaning she could not invoke her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. Lawyers for two other grand-jury resisters&mdash;Matt Duran and Katherine Olejnik&mdash;have argued that the jury's questions about their acquaintances and housemates violate the First and Fourth Amendments. The court has decided that their silence is not protected by the First, Fourth, or Fifth Amendments.</p></td><td><img title="This is the part of the story where things seem sad and hopeless, but the end of the story is not in sight!" src="http://anarchistnews.org/files/pictures/2012/redswirl.jpg"></td></tr></t...

<p>But if Plante, Duran, and Olejnik continue to remain silent, they could be imprisoned until the expiration of this grand jury. Grand jury hearings are secret, but during Plante's open contempt-of-court hearing, Judge Richard A. Jones said they could be incarcerated until March of 2014.</p>

<p>At Plante's hearing, around 40 supporters and activists&mdash;mostly dressed in black&mdash;sat in the federal courtroom while extra security, from the US Marshals and the Department of Homeland Security, stood by. As federal marshals prepared to take her away, Judge Jones reminded Plante that "you hold the keys to your freedom" and that she could be released at any time if she chose to "exercise your right to provide testimony."</p>

<p>It was an odd turn of phrase&mdash;the same judge who, that morning, legally blocked her from exercising her right to remain silent was sending her to federal detention for not exercising a "right." The 40 or so supporters in the courtroom stood solemnly as she was led away. "I love you," Plante said to the crowd as marshals escorted her through a back door. "We love you!" some people in the crowd said. The lawmen looked tense for a moment, their eyes bright and their jaws clenched, ready for action. Then everyone walked out quietly, without incident.</p>

<p>The only federal defendant to be sentenced for a May Day&ndash;related crime so far&mdash;damaging a door of a federal courthouse during the smashup&mdash;was arrested in early May and sentenced, in mid-June, to time served.</p>

<p>Which brings up a pointed question: Why was the only federally identified May Day vandal sentenced to time served (about a month), while people granted immunity from prosecution&mdash;Plante says government attorneys don't dispute that she wasn't even in Seattle on May Day&mdash;are looking down the barrel of 18 months in federal custody? Why is a person who <em>might</em> know something about a crime, but who steadfastly insists she has her right to remain silent, facing more severe punishment (about 18 times more severe) than the person who was sentenced for actually committing that crime?</p>

<p>Minutes before Plante's hearing, her attorney, Peter Mair sat, brow furrowed, in the courthouse lobby. Mair worked for years as a federal prosecutor&mdash;he's indicted the Speaker of the House of Representatives, has &#10;prosecuted mobsters, and is familiar with how grand juries work.</p>

<p>But given the way government attorneys are using grand juries now, he said, "you could indict a ham sandwich. Defense attorneys are not allowed in, other witnesses are not allowed in... They're going to send this poor girl off to prison for a year and a half. And the great irony is that the one guy who pleaded guilty to the crime served&mdash;what? Forty days?"</p>

<p>He reiterated what many other lawyers in the course of this story have argued&mdash;that the grand jury system was originally included in the Bill of Rights to avoid frivolous government indictments. But, he said, federal prosecutors have been using that system as a tool for investigation and intimidation since the Nixon administration: "They used it to chase dissidents."</p>

<p>Jenn Kaplan, an attorney who represented Olejnik, also showed up at Plante's hearing because she was "curious" to see how it would pan out. "Theoretically, the grand jury serves an important function as a jury of peers to find probable cause," she said, "instead of the US Attorney using it to indict anyone at will without having to publicly demonstrate why to anybody."</p>

<p>The system has become, she said, "a constitutional bypass around the Fourth and Fifth Amendments, allowing the government access to evidence they wouldn't otherwise have." It is also a useful tool to intimidate people, she said, creating a chilling effect on political activism. If simply knowing someone who might be suspected of political vandalism puts you at risk of a subpoena and 18 months in jail, it gives you a strong disincentive to associate with such people. She also cited an article in a Northwestern University law journal about the history of grand juries that states:</p>

<p>The fundamental principles of free association and political freedom under the First Amendment, coupled with the historic right against self-incrimination codified in the Fifth Amendment, establish a "political right of silence." This right should bar the government from compelling cooperation with the grand jury under threat of imprisonment in an investigation involving political beliefs, activities, and associations.</p>

<p>In the end, Kaplan said, it is "far too drastic to bring someone before a grand jury" just because that someone might know someone who might have committed an act of vandalism.</p>

<p>Once Plante had been led away, her supporters walked out of the courtroom. A few looked a little teary. Then they milled around the elevators and on the front lawn of the courthouse, talking about going somewhere to get some food and maybe a drink. One mentioned an FBI special agent who, before the final hearing started, had spoken with her and some of her friends while they waited in the antechamber. I saw him at the end of their conversation, crouching on the carpet while the rest sat on a bench. As I approached, she was quietly asking him: "How do you feel about the way the warrants were executed? People hog-tied in their underwear?" Perhaps sensing new ears listening to the conversation, the agent stood up, walked away, and leaned against a wall until the courtroom opened.</p>

<p>In the end, the quietly tense saga between activists, lawyers, judges, and cops was a symphony of incongruity. Nearly everyone involved seemed to believe they were doing the right thing and executing their duty to their larger community. It was a collision course of ideals: Nobody was there for fun, or for greed, or for anything so simple as selfishness.</p>

<p>The guards at the security check to the courthouse&mdash;which activists and I shuffled through several times, emptying our pockets, taking off our shoes, putting our bags through the scanner&mdash;said that day didn't seem particularly busy. "You should see Thursdays," one said. "Bankruptcy hearings." Those days, he said, were jammed with people.</p>

<p>"How long have those bankruptcy days been so busy?" I asked.</p>

<p>"Oh, you know," he said. "For three or four years&mdash;since the big crash. Lot of people hurting from that. Lot of people hurting."</p>

<p>The day after Plante was sent to prison, activists in Portland organized a "grand jury resisters solidarity march," during which they smashed out the windows of four banks: Chase, Umpqua, US Bank, and Wells Fargo. <img src="/images/rec_star.gif" width="10" height="10" alt="recommended" border=";0&quot;" /></p>

Comments

'To the dogs'!?

"The proof that the state is a creation of nature and prior to the individual is that the individual, when isolated, is not self-sufficing; and therefore he is like a part in relation to the whole. But he who is unable to live in society, or who has no need because he is sufficient for himself, must be either a beast or a god: he is no part of a state. A social instinct is implanted in all men by nature, and yet he who first founded the state was the greatest of benefactors. For man, when perfected, is the best of animals, but, when separated from law and justice, he is the worst of all." Aristotle, "Politics," Book I

this troll's teleological!

Also, slavery's cool.

Fuck Socrates, Plato and Aristotle. Diogenes is dead. Long live Diogenes!

Huh... Why the fuck should we care about Aristotle's FASCIST political views, idiot?

A social relation is nowhere near what the State is. But fascists do like to amalgamate these. Screw them. Idealist fuckers.

Long live the words and ideas of Lucretia, Epicurus, and master Lao!

So, I don't get it; which is that you anarchists are aiming to be? Beast? Or god? Or do you believe that there is some more pure form of social relations than the state? Be a bit more specific. Syndicalists? (Then really you want a ultra-democratic state, yes?)Primitivist? (But that would be a return to the beasts.) Or is everyone here just spouting? Long live the ochlocracy! Yes?

Or, perhaps, nihilist. At least that would be consistent.

"Every state is a community of some kind, and every community is established with a view to some good; for mankind always act in order to obtain that which they think good. But, if all communities aim at some good, the state or political community, which is the highest of all, and which embraces all the rest, aims at good in a greater degree than any other, and at the highest good." the A-Team

Jesus fuck you're dumb.

You need a little grammar there, son. Are you asking Jesus to fuck his dumb followers? Or are you accusing Jesus of being dumb? I suppose you mean to say "Jesus! Fuck, you are dumb!" But I'm not. Plus I know some basic English grammar rules. You, I imagine, are poor and too degraded to actually rule in any effective manner. So you lash out at anyone who does rule, whether or not they are suited to do so. Here si something just for you, comrade:

"Now in all states there are three elements: one class is very rich, another very poor, and a third in a mean. It is admitted that moderation and the mean are best, and therefore it will clearly be best to possess the gifts of fortune in moderation; for in that condition of life men are most ready to follow rational principle. But he who greatly excels in beauty, strength, birth, or wealth, or on the other hand who is very poor, or very weak, or very much disgraced, finds it difficult to follow rational principle. Of these two the one sort grow into violent and great criminals, the others into rogues and petty rascals. And two sorts of offenses correspond to them, the one committed from violence, the other from roguery. Again, the middle class is least likely to shrink from rule, or to be over-ambitious for it; both of which are injuries to the state. Again, those who have too much of the goods of fortune, strength, wealth, friends, and the like, are neither willing nor able to submit to authority. The evil begins at home; for when they are boys, by reason of the luxury in which they are brought up, they never learn, even at school, the habit of obedience. On the other hand, the very poor, who are in the opposite extreme, are too degraded. So that the one class cannot obey, and can only rule despotically; the other knows not how to command and must be ruled like slaves." A-team

Hey kid, everyone here knows you just started your first semester of college. That humanities class is pretty cool, huh? Just wait, because you basically just delivered an archaic view (Aristotle's own!) of the necessity of graduated social hierarchy which every anti-authoritarian current in history rejects.

Not a kid here, by a long shot. It is wonderful that every anti-authoritarian current in history rejects gradual social hierarchy. But it would be difficult to call the idea of social hierarchy "archaic." His views on slavery, obviously, and women, obviously thought, today, there are more slaves than ever before and women become mere materiel on the corporate mass consumer slaughterbench just like men.

Every civilization without exception establishes gradual social hierarchy (and every primitive culture has some degree of it though they seem to work hard not to allow it to become excessive). So are you a primitivist? Just say so. Though you will ave to explain how you seriously will attempt to get from point A, seven billion (or nearly) people living in the most complex civilization ever seen to Point B, primitive existence.

If that's not your plan, then offer me some notion of a goverenment-less society that is technologically sophisticated and utterly without social hierarchy. Aristotle offers something worthwhile. You do not. So, put up or shut up.

i don't get it, one minute we're clamoring for the death of capitalism and the state, and the next we're whining about our "rights": you don't get to have it both ways. you either support a "civil society" or you don't. you are either expressing your right to protest the ills of of capitalism, or you are saying that rights are crap, and we should control our own lives with total autonomy, and capitalism cannot exist in any form. if you want to see the last bureaucrat hung with the guts of the last capitalist, why should you be surprised when these people want to see YOU hung?

"..we should control our own lives with total autonomy, and capitalism cannot exist in any form."

We should, but we don't. It shouldn't but it does. That we cannot live our ideal is precisely why we are at war. Also, "The Stranger" is a more or less (mostly more) mainstream liberal weekly that would concern itself and its readers with the language of "rights". I doubt very much that Matt, Kteeo and Leah and all their supporters are freaking out because their "rights have been violated", they're freaking out because they're in a fucking cell. Rights don't exist, prison bars do.

Whining about rights? So where does wanting the end of capitalism has anything to do with accepting to be treated like in any other military dictatorship? Why are YOU whining about people standing to their rights, then?

You ask what's surprising about people wanting to see us hung for smashing windows, when those same cowards are supporting a mass-murderous, repressive government that grants god-like rights to corporate cronies along with the CIA? If it isn't obvious to you, I really don't know what you are doing on this website! Got bored with Stormfront, maybe?

Yeah, you don't get it. But it's not hard to get. Here's a clue: a progressive/liberal wrote this article about anarchists facing repression. So it reflects his liberal/progressive values. I'm sorry that for you it's difficult a situation involving two independent subjects.

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