Friday, June 22, 2012

A Court Hearing To Petition for Relief

     My hopes for the Court Hearing were fatuous.  The proceedings made me ashamed of the judicial system and of the Federal Government, which is able to sidestep due process and common sense in the name of a fallacious national security.  A government that makes and alters its own laws without the amendatory input of its people is a totalitarian government.  A totalitarian government is corrupt because it serves its own private ends, not the ends of the population it is supposed to govern.
     After the Hearing Gilbert Schaffnit, who had watched from the citizens' benches and later became my lawyer, told me, "The Judge's hands were tied.  He wasn't allowed to do what he should have done because the law didn't give him any recourse."
     Is the Federal Government's right to invade and rob a family practice clinic, and to demolish a doctor's reputation, my reputation, so irrefragable that a judge can't, if he is shown a different truth, act on it?  Or didn't Magistrate Judge Jones see in my situation any truth except that of the Tallahassee Prosecutors Corey Smith and Bobby Stinson.  These prosecutors were the two federal lawyers  handling my case, acting on their FBI agents' unilateral conviction that they had a brazen criminal, me, in their clutches.
     I requested an emergency hearing not to establish my innocence--that would require an exposition of charges, wouldn't it?--and the FBI agents had "sealed" the evidence supporting their charges.  Their logic was that I posed a danger to society and the witnesses had to be protected.
     No,  the emergency hearing was my attempt to recuperate materials indispensable for keeping the clinic open for the sake of patients and employees.
     The FBI agents had taken all the patients' medical charts.  It is impossible to provide a high level of care to sick patients without their medical records.
     The FBI agents had taken all the cash from the clinic's bank account  and all the money crom  my two personal credit union accounts.
      The bank had canceled my only credit card.
      I could not borrow money now that my financial integrity had been insulted by the FBI's bank forfeitures.
     A clinic, like any other business, cannot operate without capital.  My employees needed their paychecks.  Their health insurance required me to make premium payments.  We had to pay for malpractice, unemployment, workers' comp, and general liability insurance. We bought supplies daily:  casting materials, splints, IV fluids, flu shots, suture material, anesthetic, needles, syringes, antibiotics, EKG paper, surgical trays.
     I filed an "Emergency Motion for Return of Seized Property and Documents, To Unseal Affidavits and for Immediate Adversarial Hearing and Incorporated Memorandum of Law" with the Gainesville Division of the United States District Court in the Northern District of Florida.
     This meant that I, Ona Colasante, was petitioning the court for urgent action in order to save my clinic from closing its doors.  The action I requested was that the Court order the FBI to return my patients' medical records and give back some of the clinic's money so I could pay the staff salaries, rent, utilities, insurance and bills for medical supplies.
     An Expedited Hearing was not granted because my lawyer at the time, Curtis Fallgatter, petitioned the court for a later date without telling me.  He went on vacation for several weeks--a trip arranged before I had retained him.  He had not mentioned it to me because I would not have retained him had I  known he would be gone during this crucial period.  That is a story for another post.
     I filed this Motion "Pro Se", which is legal language for approaching the court without a lawyer.
     The Court Hearing lasted all day on September 14,  2011.  Curtis Fallgatter and Mark Thomas were my lawyers.  In the wings were Gilbert Schaffnit and Carl Lietz who were lawyers watching the proceedings in preparation for representing me.  I had no money to pay any of them.  The federal government had made it impossible for me to pay for legal defense.
      FBI agents lined the left side of the courtroom, the prosecutors stood in front of them and everyone faced Magistrate Judge Jones.  No one made eye contact with me.  The aim of the prosecutors was to keep me from being granted access to the medical charts, clinic money, or affidavits. Their job was eminently easy.
     What happened?
     My lawyer told Judge Jones that we needed working capital to keep the clinic open, medical charts to provide good care to patients, and an unsealing of the affidavits to understand what the government thought I was doing wrong and then to stop doing it.
     The two prosecutors rose and declared that they should not have to return the money because it belonged to them;  they should be able to keep the patient records because they were needed for an ongoing investigation, and they had good reasons for keeping the affidavits sealed.
     Copying or scanning the charts was unacceptable, they said--they needed "the originals."  Giving the clinic copies of the records would cost the Government too much.  Allowing clinic staff to go to Tallahassee to scan records was too intrusive.
     The prosecutors divulged no specific allegations.
     "If the Clinic is billing erroneously, don't we need to know what it's doing wrong?" we asked.
     "Dr. Colasante should know," the prosecutors answered.
     "But Dr. Colasante insists that all her charges have been justifiable and accurate.  She needs to know if she's doing something criminal."
     The prosecutors and FBI agents conferred among themselves.  Then they gave the judge their argument.
     "Dr. Colasante just wants the affidavits opened so she can build a defense.  We don't think she should have them."
     Judge Jones ruled in their favor.


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