Fellow CopBlock.org contributor, Pete Eyre, and I were assaulted (or arrested depending who you ask) by Todd M. Dodge (and some of his co-workers) last July for filming him and other public officials (county sheriffs) inside a public building (the Franklin Co Jail lobby). The ‘state of Massachusetts’ claims we broke their law (which I’ve never agreed to) because we wouldn’t stop filming and/or due to part of a telephone call being published online (when we were in jail!) – remember all actions were done in plain sight and with everyone’s knowledge. Since then we’ve returned to Greenfield, MA three times (counting this visit) for court proceedings because if we don’t the same men who assaulted us will come to our home (with guns) and take us to their court against our will. (For a complete overview click this meta post, which will bring you up to speed.)
Today’s hearing was slightly more productive, from the states eyes, than previous ones, mostly because the judge kept moving along despite our objections or questions. It started with me, who was called up first, because I had a lawyer who claimed to be representing me (he stopped returning my phone calls months ago and I decided to represent myself) so after he was removed from my case Pete was called to join me. We were asked several questions about understanding the procedures of the court, the charges against us and discussed the motions filed before the court. Here’s how it broke down.
The first thing the judge did was appoint us ‘stand by counsel.’ When Pete and I objected the judge noted it and appointed us counsel anyways. The judge said that counsel would be critical to our defense because procedure plays such an important roll in trial settings. I wanted to ask him, “are you saying that determining if someone committed a wrong against another won’t be the issue at my trial but whether or not I follow your rules is? How is that justice?” Also, in previous court appearances the ‘court’ asked us to pay $150 for state representation, which we refused, and now they ordered counsel to ‘stand by’ us – at no cost? I guess if you live in MA and can’t afford a lawyer you should do what we did, refuse to take one and the state will appoint one for you anyways, silly isn’t it. I wish those being forced to pay for it had a say in it; I’m sure the taxpayers of Greenfield wouldn’t approve of attorneys being paid for nothing.
After that, the motion to join our cases into one trial, even though there was also a motion to dimiss which – to me – would make more sense to hear first, was presented by the state. Both of us objected to the joining motion – due to our different charges, different defense tactics (possibly) and could have argued, if we believed in such document, that the constitution allows us to have separate trials – and the judge noted our objections then ruled – allowed. I even mentioned how the DA stated that this would be cost effective for the state yet the state doesn’t seem to worry about my expenses or time. Why should we be denied the right to our own trials so the state can save a few bucks (money the government forcibly taxes from people anyways). The judge again noted my objection for the record but still favored the state in his decision.
We then moved on to the motion to dismiss filed by Pete and myself (Pete did the leg work on this). The judge listened to our statements about there being no victim, no body of crime and that without such our alleged charges have no merit. We touched base on a few of the fallacies provided in the states documents (which were just given to us that day) and the judge heard the state’s response. I guess it was a good sign when the judge said he’d take it into consideration and rule within 30 days. It was probably the only thing the judge did that was even close to favorable for us.
Once that issue was over the judge asked me about a motion I filed two court appearances ago to have our property returned to us, video cameras and cell phones. I stated how the state has kept my property, that is my livelihood, for several months and I’d like it returned. The state objected saying they need the cameras and cell phones for evidence, I responded with they’ve had almost 9 months to obtain a search warrant to copy said footage. The back and forth on the issue continued until, like usual, the judge sided with the state. The judges ruling on the motion was that all property that wasn’t ‘evidence’ can be returned and that the state has an undetermined amount of time to provide me with copies of the footage and/or my actual property – which is code for never. I went on to add that I shouldn’t be punished because the state is inefficient and lazy with retaining my footage for evidence, though the judge seemed to agree with this statement he didn’t change his ruling.
We were then told the date (July 18th) we could return for our two day trial. Which, even though we’ve harmed no one the people who are demanding our presence have harmed many and continue to do so on a daily basis – until we stop them. So instead of having men with guns follow us around, we’ll be in their court, playing by their rules, which will most likely end in us doing time – at taxpayer expense of course. Why? Because we don’t know their rules, we don’t work with these people everyday (like the judge and DA do) and because we know we didn’t do anything to violate anyones rights. I can’t wait til the footage comes out, if it’s not deleted, not only were the ones who accuse us of these alleged crime doing the same thing but they couldn’t even explain the law (if there is such) to us while it was happening. The whole thing is a joke.
We’d like to thank those who came to court with us, again, to show support – we really appreciate it. If only the system was as interested as you to find and support what’s right, then we wouldn’t be in this mess.