Sunday, January 13, 2013

More on the Class-Action Lawsuit

     John Stacks called, and we had a second conversation.
     He's the guy who commissioned the "Rampant InJustice" youtube (over 300,000 views) after his business, Mountain Pure Water, was raided in nearly the same manner as my clinic.  We spoke for the first time about a month ago, when I had posted a comment to the board on his youtube site.
     He has two lawyers ready to move forward on a class-action case against the government, wherein we would demand a public apology, as well as acknowledgment by government officials that its agents trampled over our First, Fourth, and Sixth Amendment rights, our Miranda rights, and our Article 1, Section 9 rights.
     One of the lawyers, Tim Dudley, is a reserved, cogitative person--like an alligator, perhaps, holding back until the moment of attack, when it swallows its prey without remorse.  The other is a well-known federal defense lawyer named Mike Easley, who has a more voluble, assertive style.  Both are in their mid-fifties, have made the Top 500 Lawyers and Wall Street lists, and have plenty of experience and a reputation for integrity.  Dudley's ex-partner is now a federal judge, which may say something about Dudley himself, or his firm.
     "Why file the case in Arkansas?" I asked Stacks.
     "Because the judges are more conservative here," he said.
     "What's so good about 'conservative' judges?"
     "They care about the Constitution, and they take it seriously when people who have been vested with power ignore the constitutional rights of the people they represent, and attack as though we live in the Dark Ages."
     "How many other people are interested in a class action suit against the government?"
     "Lots of people," he said.  "I've spoken with up to 150 since the video was posted, and most of them were very interested--but they're afraid.  Some prefer to remain anonymous, and some have chosen to 'settle' with the government in exchange for keeping their mouths shut."
     "'Keeping their mouths shut?'" I repeated.  "Why would the government want anyone to keep quiet about what's happened to them?"
     "Maybe, because the government has something to hide.  They don't want the rest of the country to know how they violated constitutional rights."
     "Isn't that exactly why we shouldn't keep our mouths shut?"
     "That's how I feel.  And so do some of the others, who want to collaborate with us.  We need to hold the government accountable."
     "What companies want to join a class action suit?"
     "There's Gibson Guitar, Midamor, Dunkin outdoor Equipment, you, and me.  I think there will be a few others, but it's hard to get them to commit, because it means going public."
     "Who are they?"
     "One is a California company, Rawesome Foods, which has been raided three times, and was even written up in the Huffington Post."
     "What happened to them?"
     "Federal agents conducted sting operations at the store, throwing out loads of milk and cheese, arresting the owner and jailing him on $123,000 bail, and charging him with a number of crimes, including conspiracy."
     The same thing happened this year to Morninglory Dairy in Missouri.  The owner, Joe Dixon, in an appeal to his customers and supporters, quotes Thomas Jefferson on his website:

          The only thing tyranny needs in order to gain a foothold 
          is for people of good conscience to remain silent.

     John Stacks suggested we put together a group lawsuit, rather than a class-action suit.  In a group lawsuit, people with similar cases appeal to the federal government to redress wrongs committed against them, as a way of underlining the need for government agents to respect all of our constitutional rights.  In a class-action suit, defendants have been involved in the very same situation, rather than having had parallel experiences, and want an action, or compensation, to answer their complaint.  My employees and I might file a class-action suit, for instance, whereas a number of different individuals who have experienced the same unfairness might file a group lawsuit.   I agreed with Stacks, that a group lawsuit makes sense for us.
     "What could we hope to gain?"  I asked him.
     "A public admission, by government representatives, that they misused power in a tyrannical way, and in doing so violated the Constitution.  A statement that it will not happen again, and that those judges and agents who are responsible for transgressions should face disciplinary action."
     "Shouldn't we insist that the Patriot Act be retired, so long as the country isn't under imminent threat?"
     "Absolutely," he said.  "The Patriot Act gives government officials license to overlook the rights of citizens.  Then, those same officials make blanket accusations in order to trawl in money, knowing they'll profit somewhere or other, especially if people are scared.  Our country isn't under attack, and we're not in dire circumstances, so we don't need the Patriot Act and all the immunity it confers on federal employees.  Those agents and prosecutors shouldn't be immune to penalties for violating our rights,  The Patriot Act needs to be put to rest."
     Government agents, in their zeal to accumulate money and brownie points with the DOJ, throw a huge net over people and drag them all in, assuming that some of them will end up being big fish, whom they can eat--and not caring whether the others die, like dolphins caught in the enormous, industrial nets of commercial fishermen, or not.
     Stacks asked me whether members of my family had been impacted by the raid.  He said that, of the one-hundred-fifty people with whom he's spoken--people who were victims of similar raids--most reported that their spouses and other family members had become "mentally handicapped" by the experience.
     He meant that they had suffered post-traumatic-stress-disorder symptoms, including nightmares, sweating, palpitations, disturbances in thinking, breathing problems.  Stacks himself can't get the raid at Mountain Pure Water out of his mind, especially the part where federal agents held a gun to his head.
     "They've taken the Patriot Act, and they're using it as a hammer to destroy people," he said.
     It's significant that federal agents are staging raids at companies whose bank accounts offer substantial "compensation" for the government, in the form of forfeitures and fines.
     If I did something equivalent, it would mean I'd be accusing my employees--and even my children--without cause, of theft.  Then I'd be taking money from their wallets, all because my Visa bill is overdue.  Why should my employees and children ever want to associate with me again, let alone work for me, or expose themselves to my tyranny, if I acted toward them the way the government has acted toward me?
     I guess it's one way to address the national debt.

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