Wednesday afternoon, civil rights attorney David Lane of Killmer, Lane, & Newman, LLP filed on behalf of FIJA and co-plaintiffs Eric Verlo and Janet Matzen a Motion for Order to Show Cause Why Defendant Robert C. White Should Not Be Held in Contempt of Court for apparent retaliation by the Denver Police Department. Just hours after a motion for injunction was granted prohibiting further arrests for sharing jury nullification information at the Lindsey-Flanigan Courthouse, Denver conducted a mid-morning raid on juror rights educators at the courthouse.
At approximately 10:00 a.m., a cadre of Denver police officers swarmed into the group of pamphleteers and began seizing items from them. The items seized included but are not limited to the following: All literature regarding jury nullification including about 1,000 pamphlets, a small shade shelter, a table, four chairs, buckets, a cooler, signs and other items.
While on-scene, the police attempted to take personal property such as purses, computers, backpacks and other items. The pamphleteers resisted the attempts by the police to steal their personal property.
But the amended plaza order prohibits tents, tables, chairs… NO! It does not!
Many people have mistakenly been commenting that the presence of the shade canopy, table, and chairs are a violation of what remained in force of the amended plaza order issued by Judge Michael Martinez, after the injunction from Judge William Martinez is applied. As co-plaintiff Eric Verlo has pointed out, this is incorrect. The amended plaza order (the relevant portions of which are contained within the order for injunction) applies such prohibitions ONLY to the area marked with yellow shading on the picture of the plaza shown on page 8 of the injunction. All of the items stolen by police were located OUTSIDE of this zone where the plaza order’s prohibitions on such items remain in force.
So on what basis did Denver police take these malicious actions?
Wendy Shea, counsel for Denver and Denver police chief Robert White, cited Denver Municipal Code sections 49-246, 49-247, and 49-248 as the reasons for the raid. As Mr. Lane points out in the motion, all of these pertain to “encumbrances”. Lane explained in the motion that:
The police are engaged in retaliatory action for the exercise of protected speech. There is no statute in Denver defining the word “encumbrance” thus the police have decided that anything and everything in the possession of the Plaintiffs and their associates is an “encumbrance” and may be removed. They have taken this action to punish the Plaintiffs and their associates for the exercise of free speech as defined by this Court one day previously.
Moreover, citing dictionary definitions of an encumbrance as something that burdens, impedes, causes problems or difficulties, etc., Lane points out that the small area in which juror rights educators were set up in cannot reasonably be considered an encumbrance. The photos to the right, submitted as an exhibit with the motion, clearly illustrates how contrived is this thinly-veiled excuse for theft conducted under color of law.
It is entirely clear from the photo at right that no pathway into or out of the courthouse was encumbered, nor was there any other problem created by the presence and peaceful activity of the juror rights educators or by their property.
Lane argues in the brief that there is only one conclusion to be drawn from such brazen abuse of the law:
The Denver police, acting as jack-booted thugs in blatant violation of this Court’s Order, came into the plaza and began seizing all property not being carried by a pamphleteer. The only plausible explanation for this is that the police were acting in retaliation for the exercise of the free speech rights of the pamphleteers.
We have reports from locals who were present at the time of the property thefts by government officials that Denver PD has been ordered to return all of the property. As of Wednesday evening, however, it had not been returned. When one of the juror rights educators went to the police department to inquire what was the reason for the delay in returning the stolen property, he was told that property owners must identify their property to retrieve it.
● Exhibit 1 to the Complaint
● Exhibit 2 to the Complaint
● Exhibit 3 to the Complaint
● Motion for Preliminary Injunction
● Amended Motion for Preliminary Injunction
● Order Granting Motion for Preliminary Injunction
● Motion for Order to Show Cause Why Defendant Robert C. White Should Not Be Held in Contempt of Court
● Exhibit 1 to the Motion to Show Cause
● Exhibit 2 to the Motion to Show Cause