Archives for posts with tag: first amendment

Police warrants on protest groups before the Republican National Convention – implicates the rights to associate and protest and rights of search and seizure. The warrants were for bomb-making materials, but at one plaintiff’s address they found ninja foot spikes. This is the decision on motions for summary judgments.

SCOTT DEMUTH, ALEXANDER LUNDBERG, CELIA KUTZ, NATHAN CLOUGH, VINCENT COLLURA, and ANDREW FAHLSTROM, individuals, Plaintiffs,
v.
ROBERT FLETCHER, individually and in his official capacity as Ramsey County Sheriff, INSPECTOR SAMEC, individually and in his official capacity as Deputy of the Ramsey County Sheriff’s Department, COMMANDER RICH CLARK, individually and in his official capacity as Deputy of the Ramsey County Sheriff’s Department, COMMANDER SOMMERHAUSE, individually and in his official capacity as Deputy of the Ramsey County Sheriff’s Department, COUNTY OF RAMSEY, a Minnesota municipal entity CERTAIN UNKNOWN AND UNNAMED SAINT PAUL POLICE OFFICERS, CITY OF SAINT PAUL, CERTAIN UNKNOWN AND UNNAMED CITY OF MINNEAPOLIS POLICE OFFICERS, and CITY OF MINNEAPOLIS, a Minnesota municipal entity, Defendants.

Civil No. 08-5093 (JRT/LIB)

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF MINNESOTA

2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 34638

Decided March 31, 2011

Opinion by US District Judge John R. Tunheim:

Defendants Robert Fletcher, Tony Samec, Dale Sommerhause, and Rich Clark (“defendants”) executed search warrants at various locations in August 2008 in relation to alleged illegal activity undertaken by members of a group known as the Republican National Convention Welcoming Committee (“RNCWC”). Defendants seized a large quantity of documents and other items, some of which allegedly belongs to plaintiffs Scott Demuth, Alexander Lundberg, Celia Kutz, Nathan Clough, Vincent Collura, and Andrew Fahlstrom (“plaintiffs”).

Plaintiffs are alleged co-owners of various materials seized by police officers during a raid of several buildings in 2008, prior to the Republican National Convention (“RNC”). Kutz, Fahlstrom, and Clough were members of a collective known as the RNCWC which raised funds to rent space to congregate, share ideas, and organize various protest activities related to the RNC. The RNCWC provided space and tables to allow the distribution of their own literature, as well as the literature of other groups and activists. The RNCWC intended to shut down the RNC to prevent it from occurring, and to prevent delegates from arriving at the RNC’s location.

The documents include statements such as “EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW TO BE SMART AND DANGEROUS DURING THE RNC BEFORE YOU ASK,” and explicit instructions for making a Molotov cocktail.

On August 29, 2008, Inspector Tony Samec, Commander Dale Sommerhause, and Commander Rich Clark of the RCSO applied for and received a warrant to search for assembled and unassembled bombs and materials to construct bombs, documents, and other materials at the Convergence Center. The application and resulting warrant described a variety of weapons and materials the affiants believed would be found there, including “[a]ssembled improvised incendiary devices . . . [i]gnitable liquids . . . [s]moke bombs . . . [and] [m]anuals, books and/or instructions for the construction of Molotov cocktails, bombs and other direct action techniques[.]”

One of the addresses searched:

D. 3500 South Harriet Avenue

On August 30, 2008, at 8:00 am, officers executed a search warrant at 3500 South Harriet Avenue. (Incident Report 3500 S. Harriet Ave., Samec Aff. Ex. A, Docket No. 56.) Officers located several weapons, including “ninja foot spikes,” a slingshot, and documents relating to the RNC. (Id. at 4-5.) Plaintiff Vincent Collura alleges that after entering the house, police ordered him to lie on the floor, where he was handcuffed and searched, then was unbound and taken outside approximately a half-hour later.

Collura testified that he resided at the residence at the time of the search, and shared a bedroom with Max Specktor. Collura also asserts ownership of a two-page address and phone list, from which he was transferring phone numbers into a new cell phone, that was seized by officers effectuating the warrant. Collura testified that the raid had a chilling effect on his desire to participate in the planned protests of the RNC for fear of further interactions with the police. (Collura Dep. 54:5-7, Apr. 30, 2010, Angolkar Aff. Ex. P.)

A whole bunch of legal analysis – concluding:

Based upon all the files, records and proceedings herein, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that:

1. Defendants’ Motion for Summary Judgment [Docket No. 53] is GRANTED in part and DENIED in part;

a. The motion is GRANTED as to plaintiffs’ claims for conspiracy, failure to prevent, and claims under Monell;

b. The motion is GRANTED as to claims against any unknown officers. The “certain unknown and unnamed Saint Paul Police Officers, including officers John Doe and Jane Roes 1 thru 100” and “certain unnamed and unknown City of Minneapolis Police Officers, including officers John Doe and Jane Does 1 thru 100,” are DISMISSED with prejudice.

c. The motion is DENIED in all other respects.

2. Plaintiffs’ Motion for Partial Summary Judgment [Docket No. 51] is DENIED.

DATED: March 31, 2011

at Minneapolis, Minnesota.

/s/ John R. Tunheim

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This 2007 case is an action pursuant to 42 U.S.C.S. § 1983 by a Muslim prisoner in Georgia claiming RLUIPA related First Amendment violations while in prison. Specicially, the plaintiff sought 52 books, some with the word “Ninja” in the title. He also had other issues like wearing his Kufi and having a digital version of the Qur’an. This plaintiff has become something of a jailhouse lawyer filing many actions, but also he is still involved in litigation about related incidents from 1995. The word ninja is mentioned only in this decision involving alleged prison guard violations of first amendment and the plaintiff was released from prison (serving a 10 year sentence) before this 2007 case was decided. But in a strange twist, he is back in prison now facing murder charges related to the original crime. The trial is happening like now (?-see update below-) see links below, but first the 2007 RLUIPA ninja case:

WASEEM DAKER, Plaintiff,
v.
JOE FERRERO, et al., Defendants.

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF GEORGIA, ATLANTA DIVISION
CIVIL ACTION NO. 1:03-CV-02481-RWS
475 F. Supp. 2d 1325

Decided, February 26, 2007 by Judge Richard Story:

Plaintiff, proceeding pro se, initiated this civil action in August 2003 against Defendant Joe Philip Ferrero, Acting Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Corrections (“GDC”), and numerous prison officials. In his Fourth Amended Complaint, Plaintiff asserts nineteen claims pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (“RLUIPA”), 42 U.S.C. § 2000cc-1 et seq., challenging aspects of his confinement in various GDC prison facilities. Specifically, Plaintiff challenges: (i) a requirement that he “stand at attention” in the presence of prison officials; (ii) a restriction on his wearing of a Kufi, a traditional article of Muslim headdress; (iii) a denial of his request to possess a digital device containing the text of the Qur’an; (iv) content-based restrictions on the sending and receiving of prisoner mailings and publications; and (v) the sufficiency of the procedures afforded to inmates and senders of mail when prisoners are denied certain mailings and publications. 1 On October 25, 2005, Plaintiff was released from prison, but he continues to pursue this litigation.

explaining:

In his third and eighth allegations, Plaintiff claims that Defendants denied him approximately 52 books on the basis of content in violation of the First Amendment. These books include: (1) The Catalog of Catalogs VI; (2) Mathematical Cryptology; (3) Applied Cryptography; (4) Using Microsoft Visual InterDev; (5) C++ How to Program; (6) Dubugging C++; (7) Night Movements; (8) Inside Kung-Fu; (9) Complete Karate; (10) Far Beyond Defensive Tactics; (11) SAS Training Manual; (12) The Encyclopedia of Survival Techniques; (13) The SAS Guide to Tracking; (14) Ninja: History and Tradition; (15) Ninja: Power of the Mind; (16) Ninja Mind Control; (16) Bin Laden: The Man Who Declared War on America; (17) Revolution by the Book; Different Loving; (18) How to Survive the IRS; (19) Witchcraft: A Secret History; (20) Practical Electronics; (21) Lip Reading Made Easy; (22) HansWehr Arabic English Dictionary; (23) Que Tal?; (24) C++ from the Ground Up; (25) Visual Basic from the Ground Up; (26) Ditch Medicine; (27) Do it Yourself Medicine; (28) The Mammoth Book of Love and Sensuality; (29) The Joy of Sex; (30) Building Bots; (31) Gonzo Gizmos; (32) Booby Trap Identification and Response Guide; (33) Death Investigator’s Handbook and DEA Investigator’s Manual; (34) Georgia Criminal Trial Practice; (35) Georgia Criminal Trial Practice–Forms; (36) Georgia Handbook on Criminal Evidence; (37) Green’s Georgia Law on Evidence; (38) Criminal Investigation: Basic Perspectives; (39) Law Enforcement Technology 260: Criminal Investigation; (40) U.S. Army Special Forces Medical Handbook; (41) Military Book Club Emergency Medical Procedures; (42) The Tao of Sexuality; (43) Ragnar’s Guide to the Underground Economy; (44) Investing Offshore; (45) Electronic Circuits and Secret of an Old-Fashioned Spy; (46) The Black Science: Ancient and Modern Techniques of Ninja Mind Control; (47) The Kama Sutra; (48) Samurai: The World of the Warrior; (49) Leadership Lessons of the Navy Seals; (50) Experiments in Electronic Devices and Circuits; (51) three Fantagraphics books; and (52) Guide to Getting it On. (See Pl.’s Statement of Material Facts [hereinafter “Pl.’s SMF”] PP 15-59.)

Defendants do not dispute that they denied Plaintiff these books. Rather, Defendants argue that Plaintiff has failed to demonstrate that he followed the proper procedures in requesting the books, and that, in any event, the books were properly denied on procedural grounds or after a review by a publications review panel. Defendants claim they are therefore entitled to qualified immunity, notwithstanding the reasons for the denial of each individual publication.

Go to this Headnote in the case.Regulations affecting the sending of publications to a prisoner are analyzed under the Turner reasonableness standard. Thornburgh, 490 U.S. at 413 (citing Turner, 482 U.S. at 89). Such regulations are valid if they are reasonably related to legitimate penological interests.

also,

As another example, Plaintiff claims that on October 26, 2004, two books, The Ninja and Endurance Techniques, were denied to Plaintiff. He claims that he was initially denied an opportunity to appeal, but after filing a grievance relating to that denial, Plaintiff was ostensibly given an opportunity to appeal. Nevertheless, Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Hilton Hall “refused to impound the publication for review by the [Publications Review Committee].” After Plaintiff filed another grievance relating to the denial of an opportunity to appeal, Defendant Steve Benton rejected the appeal, stating “only if the facility cannot determine admissibility is the publication to be impounded for further review by the PRC.” (See Pl.’s SMF P 46.) Once again, Defendants “dispute these allegations as written,” without providing any argument or citation to evidence in the record. (See Defs.’ SMF P 46.)

This case decision is on motion for Summary Judgment. The Court granted the motion in part and denied in part. For example the Defendant prison guards were granted summary judgment as related to the wearing of the Kufi. But as to the books, the allegation lived on. But ultimately in subsequent appeal, on a motion to vacate, in the same Court, Judge Story wrote on January 8, 2008, Daker v Chatman, 2008 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 1192 :

Plaintiff has demonstrated, that reasonable prison officials could disagree over whether certain of these titles pose legitimate security concerns in a prison environment. But that disagreement entitles Defendants to qualified immunity. Unless no reasonable prison official could conclude that any of these publications present a security risk, then the “considerable deference” owed to officials engaged in the “‘inordinately difficult undertaking’ that is modern prison administration” and the robust legal protection afforded to governmental agents, who must be allowed to “carry out their discretionary duties without the fear of personal liability or harassing litigation,” Lee v. Ferraro, 284 F.3d 1188, 1194 (11th Cir. 2002), entitles the denying official to qualified immunity. See Duamutef v. Hollins, 297 F.3d 108, 112 (2d Cir. 2002) (applying “heightened deference” to prison official’s decision to censor publications). For these reasons and for the reasons stated in its Order of August 24, 2007, the Court remains convinced that the denial of these publications was consistent with the protections afforded to prisoners under the First Amendment, see Turner v. Safley, 482 U.S. 78, 85, 107 S. Ct. 2254, 96 L. Ed. 2d 64 (1987), and thus, Plaintiff suffered no constitutional injury. Insofar as Plaintiff moves to vacate this Court’s Order of August 24, 2007, that Motion is DENIED.

Amazingly, this is nowhere near the end of the story. Waseem Daker did get out of prison in 2005 but was re-arrested in 2010 on charges related to the same incidents from 1995. His original imprisonment was related to stalking and assault, and 2010 they arrested him for murder. An order May 9, 2011 by Magistrate Judge E. Clayton Scofield III, in Daker v. Warren, 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 116451, explains,

At the combined probable cause/bond hearing on February 18, [2010] at which Daker was represented by retained counsel, attorney Brian Steel, the trial court heard testimony from Daker’s brother revealing that Daker (who was born in 1977) has family ties to Syria, where his parents were born and raised. The court also heard that Daker has lived in the Atlanta area since 1990; that after his release from state prison in 2005, following ten years of incarceration, until his arrest in January 2010, he worked in the family business as the general manager of a furniture store and lived with his family, who currently reside in a half-million dollar home; and that he has an expired Canadian passport, although it is unclear whether he has dual citizenship in Canada and the United States. (Probable Cause/Bond Hr’g Tr. at 31-41, ECF No. 4-1 at 39-49.) The state argued that Daker’s family has “large assets” and “connections in Syria, where the family’s from” and where Daker has traveled, and that Daker had “connections to Canada” at some point as well: “He has the ability to flee, he has the connections to flee, he’s a risk of flight.” (Id., Hr’g Tr. at 54-55, ECF No. 4-1 at 62-63.) The trial court ruled as follows: “Well, murder is different . . . [addressing Daker’s attorney], in the sense that somebody’s facing a life sentence, so I think that’s a strong motivation for someone to flee, or to think about fleeing. So, today I’m going to deny bond.” (Id., Hr’g Tr. at 55.) Daker filed a state habeas petition, which was denied on June 24, 2010. The Georgia Supreme Court, on November 3, 2010, denied Daker’s application for a certificate of probable cause to appeal that denial. (Pet. ¶ 10.)

And recently, June 25, 2012, Judge Story denied a variety of Daker’s motions in Daker v. Warren, 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 87517, including a motion to reconsider bail, and a motion to recuse both Judge Story and Magistrate Judge Scofield, amongst other pretrial motions. The case remained on the docket the next day, but I can’t tell if it went to trial. It seems Daker first parted with his retained attorney nd was then acting pro se, filing all sorts of motions and then the Court took the unusual step of appointed backup counsel, and Daker seemed to allow that counsel to takeover (?) All this back-and-forth may be an attempted tactic. See article in Marietta Daily Journal “Trial of man accused in gruesome 1995 murder delayed 90 days” and in Atlanta Journal New, Cobb County: “Defendant representing himself in 1995 murder case” – But nothing more recent. Does that mean he hasn’t gone to trial yet or did he take an unreported plea?

waseem daker

— UPDATE —
Murder trial of Waseem Daker to begin in September“, Examiner.com, August 25, by Leigh Egan:

jury selection will begin on September 10th. The trial is set to take place at the Cobb County Superior Court.

Daker, 34, was charged in 2010 with the 1995 murder of Karmen Smith. Smith, a Delta flight attendant, was murdered in her Cobb County home. Only a year after the murder took place, Daker was accused of stalking Smith’s roommate. Subsequently, he was convicted and spent ten years in state prison. Although he remained as an person of interest in Smith’s murder, it wasn’t until 2010 that he was charged, based upon DNA evidence that was found at the scene.

Since then, Daker has attempted represent himself after firing several public and private defenders. Recently, however, he agreed to be represented by the law team of Michael and Jason Treadaway.

— UPDATE 2 — 9/9/2012

Murder trial to begin in Cobb woman’s 1995 strangling” by By Andria Simmons in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

— UPDATE 3 — 9/14/2012
Defendant represents himself in flight attendant murder case” By Andria Simmons in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Stalking victim testifies in Cobb murder trial” By Andria Simmons in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

The story is also being covered by Kim Issa in The Marietta Daily Journal:
“Opening arguments to begin today in E. Cobb murder trial” by Kim Isaza
Murder suspect was urged to get professional help” by Kim Isaza

and Andrew Spencer at WSBradio
Man charged in 1995 Cobb Co. murder representing himself” by Andrew Spencer as WSBradio
Defendant wants new lawyers in 1995 Cobb murder trial” by Andrew Spencer as WSBradio

— UPDATE 4 – 10/1/2012
“Daker sentenced to life plus 47 years” by Andria Simmons for AJC including a quote from the surviving victim, the son of the murdered woman, himself also assaulted and now currently 22 year’s old.

This 1997 Florida case in Federal Court is about a strip club claiming that the local government is violating its rights with a new ordinance, the Jacksonville Adult Entertainment and Services Code.

WHITE’S PLACE, INC., d/b/a The Gold Club, Plaintiff,
v.
NATHANIEL GLOVER, in his Official Capacity as Sheriff of Jacksonville, THE CITY OF JACKSONVILLE, a Florida Municipal Corporation, and THE HONORABLE CHARLES O. MITCHELL, Jr., in his Official Capacity, Defendants.

White’s Place v. Glover
Case No. 97-930-Civ-J-20C
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE MIDDLE DISTRICT OF FLORIDA, JACKSONVILLE DIVISION
975 F. Supp. 1333

Decided – August 27, 1997

Judge Harvey Schlesinger writing for the Court explains:

With respect to Plaintiff’s argument that arrests were conducted by officers in Ninja masks, the Defendants have explained that these were worn by undercover vice officers whose identities would have been disclosed but for the masks.

The Court finds that Plaintiff is not likely to prevail and refuses to order a preliminary injunction.

This is not the first case of masks being called ninja masks, nor of police wearing them.

Three years later, the 11th circuit vacated and remanded (222 F.3d 1327, August 2000), because, as a corporation, White’s Place lacks standing to challenge the ordinance.

Meanwhile, twelve years later, the Gold Club is still currently operating at the same location as during this litigation: 320 General Doolittle Drive in Jacksonville, Florida – but it looks like maybe White’s Place Inc. sold to South East Show Clubs ?