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Notes on waste, water, and whatever from the author of Bottlemania and Garbage Land
I'm a retired Federal law enforcement officer, and I don't quite understand how the market's cop could hold you so long without charges. I would have been obligated to either physically arrest you (in handcuffs as per my agency's policy), write you a violation notice (ie: ticket telling you to pay a set fine or appear in court on a certain day for a trial), or release you within a reasonable amount of time (maybe 30 minutes or so). After all, I assume that they could find you later if necessary. Did you refuse to provide adequate identification? Probably not, right? The police officer's comment that he would physically restrain you would make me personally say, fine, you will need to do that. That should have had no bearing on a future judge's decision anyway, but it could certainly have bearing on any future civil lawsuit if you felt you were illegally arrested and/or held involuntarily. In court, the Judge or Magistrate apparently did not find you guilty of anything, so unless I'm missing something, he had no business telling you to stay out of trouble for six months or six minutes.
Wow. So you were arrested for not breaking the law, and "walked away" on probation??? Just to double-check, this WAS in the United States, the self-proclaimed haven of freedom, not Pakistan, right? How about walking out of the detention room, have the mall cop wrestle you down and sue him for invading personal freedom etc.? I wonder how that would have played out. I have to say I'm more and more convinced that democracy exists only on paper in this country.
Not to sound judgmental, but you might want to look into the skills of a "Navy Seal" of a lawyer who needs to brush up on trespassing law before a court case and then somehow manages to get you on probation for a crime you didn't commit.
Daniel: Actually, Federal Court can be significantly different than Local or State Courts. I sometimes would have a case that the U.S. Attorney (the Federal prosecution) felt would be better handled in State Court, such as with a juvenile defendant. I always hated that, because the courtroom procedure is just not like my usual Federal cases. So the onearth attorney was actually trying this case in a completely different environment than his usual cases, and justifiably felt that before he walked into court there, more knowledge of that system was essential. I have seen local attorneys who were not used to Federal Court, and were just recently given permission to handle a Federal case (yes, they must be "admitted" into the Federal system first), really make some unreasonable mistakes. I saw one defence attorney who placed a tape recorder onto the table, and was told by the Federal Judge that if he did not remove it immediately, HE would be spending a day in jail, and he needed to bone up on the Federal system before representing a client there. He did complete the case (he lost, but that was because my evidence was solid), but I personally would have "renegotiated" his legal fees if I was the defendant and had hired him. I doubt that there was anything placed on the defendants' (the good "guys" from onearth) criminal records. Although I now live in a third world country in Southeast Asia, the U.S. legal system is light years better than any of the 20 third world countries here, and in Central/South America that I have spent time in. I enjoy living in these kind of places because they are so exotic, but sometimes miss the "normal" happenings in the U.S. I'm very happy to see the environmentally conscious people of this, and other organizations around the world. Good job!
Believe me, Commenters, I was tempted to walk out and risk the cuffs, just to set something in motion. But I didn't want to get put into the system and lose even more of my day. And yes, I felt that accepting a probationary period nodded to some level of guilt, but Mitch Bernard assured us this was not the case. What I really wanted from this episode was an acknowledgement from Hunts Point that it was wrong to hold us for so long, to charge us with criminal or any other kind of trespass, to force us to defend ourselves in court, and to waste court employees' time on a senseless charge. (At the same time, I feel guilty even complaining about this nonevent: the system comes down much harder on innocent people every day, people who don't have access to attorneys or other forms of support, to say nothing of a media platform in which they can air their grievances.)