Posts tagged ‘Bill of Rights’

Burns Chronicles No 54 – To Jury, or, Not To Jury

Burns Chronicles No 54
To Jury, or, Not To Jury

Gary Hunt
Outpost of Freedom
January 23, 2017

Though I have posted the Preamble to the Bill of Rights a number of times, people still ask if there really is a Preamble to the Bill of Rights.  A preamble sets forth the purpose of the document, as the Preamble to the Constitution sets forth its purpose.  It is not a part of the document, rather an explanation as to why the document was created.  When Congress approved, and sent the Bill of Rights to the States, as required by Article V of the Constitution, the first paragraph explained why the Joint Resolution was passed.  It states, “declaratory and restrictive clauses should be added” for the purpose of “extending the ground of public confidence in the Government.”  To wit:

The Conventions of a number of the States, having at the time of their adopting the Constitution, expressed a desire, in order to prevent misconstruction or abuse of its powers, that further declaratory and restrictive clauses should be added: And as extending the ground of public confidence in the Government, will best ensure the beneficent ends of its institution.

So, now, we must determine if, in fact, it has extended “the ground of public confidence in the Government“, in light of the current situation.  Our query must be directed to the Sixth Amendment:

In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining Witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defence.

We must also look to the Seventh Amendment:

In Suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise reexamined in any Court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.

So, between these two Amendments, we find that every judicial concept in the Constitution, with the exception of the House and Senate’s disciplinary procedures regarding their own members, requires a jury to make the determination of guilt or innocence.

The matter at hand is the additional charges brought against the lower level defendants in the occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.  Since the government did not get a conviction of the leaders of said occupation, they have stooped to a new low, perhaps just being poor losers.  They have brought a Misdemeanor Information, for Trespass and other crimes, against the second group of defendants.  These charges were not a part of the Superseding Indictment.

. Continue reading ‘Burns Chronicles No 54 – To Jury, or, Not To Jury’ »

Liberty or Laws? – Natural Rights versus Civil Rights

Liberty or Laws?
Natural Rights versus Civil Rights

Gary Hunt

Outpost of Freedom
January 22, 2017

We must understand the difference between Natural Rights, those inherent in the people, and Civil Rights, those given to the People.  If we fail to do so, we participate in our own demise.

The concept of rule by those chosen by God, as claimed by the royalty of the past, where the royalty of Europe claimed to be descendants from God, and ruled by virtue of that sovereign nature.  When the United States of America declared their Independence from that concept, to the philosophical concept of the right of man to rule himself evolved, they moved into a Great Experiment.  Though this political philosophy had existed for hundreds of years, our Founders were the first to put this new form of government into practice.

Natural Rights are based on the concept that every man has a right to the fundamental necessities of life; those being Life, Liberty, and Property.  Thomas Jefferson, in writing the Declaration of Independence, chose to be poetic, substituting “pursuit of Happiness” for Property, though the many declarations that preceded the eventual Declaration of Independence were based upon Property, as defined by Locke and other early political philosophers.  Happiness is a consequence of possessing Life, Liberty, and Property.  It is not a tangible right, rather, a derivative, of those Natural Rights.  Jefferson, as Locke, had recognized that the purpose of government was to secure those rights.  It was no longer the rights of the king, From July 4, 1776 on, those rights became, truly, the Rights of the People.

The Constitution began the process of securing those rights, though few are mentioned in that Document.  Let’s look at those so secured:

  • “Authors and Inventors [have] the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.”  {I:8:8}
  • An Accused has the right to the “Trial of all Crimes…  [which] shall be by Jury”.  {III:2:3}
  • Finally, “The Privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it.”  {I:9:2}

Now, some might question whether the third, Habeas Corpus, is a right.  The word “Privilege”, as used in the Constitution, is a right that can, under certain circumstances, by revoked.  Those circumstances are clearly stated, being “Cases of Rebellion or Invasion”, and no other.

Many of the Founders felt that it was insufficient not to protect those Rights, further.  Two states, North Carolina and Massachusetts, did not ratify the Constitution until after the Bill of Rights was submitted to the States for ratification.  Massachusetts would not ratify the Constitution until after the Bill of Rights was ratified.

In fact, the protection of those Natural Rights was so important that it was presented to the States for ratification complete with a Preamble, indicating the reason why the proposed amendments were being presented to the States:

The Conventions of a number of the States, having at the time of their adopting the Constitution, expressed a desire, in order to prevent misconstruction or abuse of its powers, that further declaratory and restrictive clauses should be added: And as extending the ground of public confidence in the Government, will best ensure the beneficent ends of its institution.

So, let’s look at the Rights secured by that document intended to “prevent misconstruction or abuse of its powers“:

. Continue reading ‘Liberty or Laws? – Natural Rights versus Civil Rights’ »

Liberty or Laws? – “nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself”

Liberty or Laws?

“nor shall be compelled in any criminal case
to be a witness against himself”

Does the Fifth Amendment Stop at Miranda?

Miranda wordingGary Hunt
Outpost of Freedom
June 6, 2016

The principle element in this discussion is the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution:

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use without just compensation.

The provision that is of concern is, “No person… shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself.”  And, we must begin by understanding that, as the Preamble to the Bill of Rights says,

The Conventions of a number of the States, having at the time of their adopting the Constitution, expressed a desire, in order to prevent misconstruction or abuse of its powers, that further declaratory and restrictive clauses should be added: And as extending the ground of public confidence in the Government, will best ensure the beneficent ends of its institution.

Clearly, the Fifth Amendment, then, is a prohibition against the government, “to prevent misconstruction or abuse of [the federal government’s] powers

To understand the role of the Supreme Court, at least for nearly the past century, we need to review what Justice Brandeis explained in Ashwander v. Tennessee Valley Authority (1936), in which he explained the “rules” that the Court had adopted to avoid “passing upon a large part of all constitutional questions pressed upon it for decision.”  (See About Ashwander v. TVA)

The pertinent rules from that decision are:

2.  The Court will not ‘anticipate a question of constitutional law in advance of the necessity of deciding it… ‘It is not the habit of the court to decide questions of a constitutional nature unless necessary to a decision of the case

3.  The Court will not formulate a rule of constitutional law broader than is required by the precise facts to which it is to be applied….

4.  The Court will not pass upon a constitutional question although properly presented by the record, if there is also present some other ground upon which the case may be disposed of.

7.  ‘When the validity of an act of the Congress is drawn in question, and even if a serious doubt of constitutionality is raised, it is a cardinal principle that this Court will first ascertain whether a construction of the statute is fairly possible by which the question may be avoided

To summarize the pertinent rules:

  • The Court will not decide on the constitutionality, unless absolutely necessary – rules 2 & 4.
  • When the Court does rule on the constitutionality, that ruling will be as narrow as possible – rule 3.
  • The Court will, whenever possible, rule on statutory construction to avoid ruling on constitutionality – rule 7.

Now with this in mind, they won’t rule on the constitutionality, unless necessary, and if they do rule on constitutionality, they will make that ruling as narrow as possible.  We will look at a Supreme Court decision that we are all familiar with, Miranda v. Arizona (1966).

In Miranda, which requires that law enforcement officers notice the person being investigated for possible criminal activity be advised that he have the right to refuse to talk and to have an attorney present.  However, in keeping with Ashwander rule #7, the ruling deals only with those in custody.

So, the question arises, why would one’s right only apply to when one is in custody (they narrow ruling)?  If one the right to not incriminate oneself, “to be a witness against himself”, would that not apply once suspicion was raised against him, or does it only apply after he is in custody?.  Wouldn’t it really be a prohibition against government, both before and after one was in custody?

If a law enforcement office, in uniform or plain clothes, with the intent of trying to elicit a confession, or information that would incriminate someone, while in custody, was prohibited by the Fourth Amendment and confirmed by the Supreme Court, then why would we assume that that prohibition did not also extend to when one was under suspicion?  After all, when one is under suspicion, the law enforcers are just a small step away from putting someone in custody.  Why would that prohibition only come into play when the actual act of custody was implemented?  Is it possible that those who ratified the Amendment intended for that form of chicanery to be acceptable?  Or, was their intention to prohibit divisive means of acquiring incriminating evidence in apparent conflict with the wording of the Amendment?

Now, we need to visit a little historical background to carry the ramifications of the intent into an understanding of changes in practices between the Eighteenth Century and modern law enforcement, to put a proper perspective on how the intent of the Amendment is circumvented.

In the Eighteenth Century, spying, intelligence gathering, and other such undercover work was carried out in higher levels of government, only.  The consequence for being caught practicing such infamy was death.  Consequently, those willing to lay their lives on the line for the greater cause of national politics carried out such work.  The idea of spying on their own citizens was out of the question.  After all, it is the job of any decent government to protect its citizens, not to treat them as they would an enemy.  The idea that such practices could be used in the lower elements of society, in pursuit of criminals rather than state secrets or wartime intelligence, was not a practice, as honor was conscientiously upheld.  To deceive alleged criminals would be to stoop to the level of criminals. Continue reading ‘Liberty or Laws? – “nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself”’ »

Camp Lone Star – “Fruit of the Poisonous Tree”

Camp Lone Star – “Fruit of the Poisonous Tree”

Bill of Rights

Gary Hunt
Outpost of Freedom
February 19, 2015

 

We are all familiar, at least to some degree, with the concept of chain of evidence, Miranda rights, and the 4th and 5th Amendments to the Constitution.

Evidence has to be acquired by legal means. A warrant is required, except under certain circumstances, to seize evidence. So, what happens if there is an incident, whether accidental, or, perhaps, even set up, to create a situation where, by stealthy means, “evidence” is secured without a warrant, or a crime (certain circumstances) in which the evidence can be rightfully secured?

On August 29, 2014, a Border Patrol Agent, claiming that a weapon had been pointed at him, fired five shots, from about 30 feet distant from John Foerster. Surprisingly, he missed hitting Foerster, indicating both poor marksmanship, and suggesting that the agent committed a crime, in violation of BPS policy.

Foerster, Massey, and the third member of their group, Varner, had their five firearms taken from their 4-wheel “mule”, without a warrant – a violation of the 4th Amendment. Then, without being read their Miranda rights, questioned by BPS, a local Sheriff’s deputy, and an FBI agent.

From the Affidavit for a Search Warrant, item 5.

  1. During a post-shooting investigation, two of these armed individuals were identified as Kevin Lyndel MASSEY (aka KC Massey) and John Frederick FOERSTER, and both admitted to interviewing officers of the Cameron County Sheriffs Office (CCSO) and Special Agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) to possessing some of the firearms seized.

From the Affidavit for a Criminal Complaint (arrest warrant):

  1. FBI Special Agent Caryn Chasteen and Cameron County Sheriffs Office Investigator Padilla interviewed FOERSTER. During the interview FOERSTER admitted to possessing the ZASTAVA, Model: PAP M92PV, 7.62 x 39mm pistol, SN: MP2PV005143; adding that he did not own this firearm but borrowed it from Kevin MASSEY.
  2. During the interview of MASSEY, by FBI Special Agent David Cordoba and HSI Special Agent Jeremy Bergeaux, MASSEY admitted to both the ownership of the ZASTAVA, Model: PAP M92PV, 7.62 x 39mm pistol, SN: MP2PV005143, and to lending this firearm to FOERSTER.

Now, in reviewing those documents, we find no claim that there was a search warrant to allow them to seize the firearms, or that Miranda rights were read to them before taking testimony.

Because of the illegal seizure of the weapons, and the illegally obtained statements by Massey, Foerster, and Varner, the subsequent Search Warrant and Criminal Complaint (arrest warrant) were secured. If the rights of Americans are as intended by the Founders, then the invalidity of the actions of August 29 leave no lawful justification (excuse) to obtain the subsequent warrants.

If we are a nation of laws, and the “supreme Law of the Land” is the Constitution, then by what right does the federal government pretend that they can walk over the Bill of Rights, imposing hardship and expense on K. C. Massey?

Massey’s attorney, Louis S. Sorola, has the same question, so he has filed a Motion to Suppress Illegally Seized Evidence and Illegally Obtained Statements. As he points out in the Motion,

The August 29, 2014 search and seizure was illegal and the evidence and statements should be suppressed along with any subsequent statements and evidence seized on October 20, 2014 as they are fruit of the poisonous tree.

The Honorable Andrew S. Hanen, United States District Court, Southern District of Texas, Brownsville Division will hear this Motion. Judge Hanen recently ruled against the Obama Amnesty Plan, indicating a respect for both the Constitution and the fact that only Congress may legislate.