Saturday, May 25, 2013

The Protected Predator Class

Deputy Creeper, I presume? Scott Womack in court.

In Utah, as elsewhere in the Soyuz, “battering” a police officer is considered an especially grievous crime. Until earlier this year, this offense was treated as a Class A misdemeanor. Under SB 131, a measure enacted earlier this year by the state legislature, it is now a class C felony.

Any incidental contact between a Mundane and the sanctified personage of a police officer – including the act of breathing on an officer – can be prosecuted as “battery.” This would apply to cases in which a woman is desperately trying to prevent an officer from violating her sexually: A victim who puts up resistance in such circumstances can expect to be violently subdued, arrested, and charged with “assaulting an officer.” 

In Utah, a victim of a sexual assault by a police officer could easily find herself convicted of a felony unless she submits with docility to whatever the armed predator is willing to inflict on her. On the other hand, if the officer is exposed as a sex offender, it’s quite likely that he would face misdemeanor charges. This is illustrated by the case of former Box Elder County Sheriff’s Deputy Scott Womack, who is facing multiple lawsuits and criminal charges involving illegal strip-searches of young women conducted during traffic stops over a period of about two years. 

In February, Womack pleaded no contest to three counts of attempted custodial misconduct – which is a misdemeanor offense. In exchange for Womack’s plea, county prosecutors dropped nine additional charges – all of them misdemeanors, as well. 

Under the plea bargain agreement, Womack’s name would not be permanently inscribed in the sex offender registry – despite the fact that his acts are, by definition, those of a violent sex offender. Since the charges against him are misdemeanors, Womack would eventually be eligible for the restoration of his peace officer certification. Womack does face federal criminal charges and federal lawsuits filed by three of his victims, but it’s likely that most, if not all, of the trouble he faces would be made to disappear once the first state case against him is closed.

After he was arraigned, Womack was compelled to surrender his passport and to avoid contact with the victims. However, he has been free during the legal proceedings. During a court hearing in early May, Womack – surrounded by family and other supportive spectators – “waited for the judge to call his case sitting in a back room of the court, shrouded by blinds that court workers said [are] typically reserved for victims who do not want to be seen by defendants,” reported the Salt Lake Tribune.
Check into the Creep Motel, Womack.
In other words, the impenitent predator was dealt with as if he were the victim, cosseted and sheltered and treated with gentle deference. He has been allowed to remain at large despite the fact that at least one of the victims, Brigham City resident Holly Griffin, said that she was afraid of retaliation by Womack “because he had my address.”

Griffin’s fears were amply justified. During a traffic stop not far from her home, Womack – in what would emerge as his modus operandi – claimed that Griffin was wanted on a narcotics warrant, and would be handcuffed and taken to the county jail unless she submitted to an invasive inspection for tattoos, piercings, and other identifiers.

“When he returned to my car [after getting the driver’s license and registration], he explained that there was a warrant out for me in Summit County,” Griffin told the Salt Lake City ABC affiliate. “I told him I had not been to Summit County in a few years and that I had never done anything wrong in my life.”

Womack presented Griffin with two options: Submit to a partial strip search, or go to jail. When she requested that a female officer conduct the search, Womack replied that none was available. 

“He asked me to life up my shirt up to my bra, lift down my pants to expose my upper thigh, and to show my lower leg,” the victim recounts. After she had satisfied the armed stranger’s demands, Womack released her without issuing a citation or a warning. Understandably traumatized by her experience, Griffin didn’t file a complaint – until after another victim, 18-year-old Tamsen Reid, filed a federal lawsuit against Womack and Box Elder County.

On November 20, 2010, Reid – who was 17 at the time – was one of five teenagers in a car that was stopped by Womack during a snowstorm. Womack claimed that the driver was speeding. After noticing that one of the teens was smoking, Womack ordered the driver and the passengers out of the car to search the vehicle for drugs. 

After running the IDs of the five teenagers, Womack claimed that three of them – all of them young women, wouldn’t you know – had outstanding drug warrants in other jurisdictions. He had Reid and her female friends stand barefoot in the snow while lifting up their shirts and their bras, ostensibly to search for drugs.
Speaking out: Tamsen Reid.
For some reason, the costumed creeper took a special interest in Reid. Womack claimed that Reid was wanted in that state for heroin possession. This led the young woman, who had not been to Arizona and had never done heroin, to suggest that she might be the victim of identity theft. 

Displaying the affected solicitude of a practiced molester, Womack told the frightened girl that she could clear things up right away, if she would simply get into his patrol vehicle and undress so he could inspect her for distinctive tattoos and piercings. Her only other alternative was to be handcuffed and booked into jail. 

Terrified, and most likely nauseous, Reid complied. This prompted the predator to escalate his demands: He claimed that it was necessary for the teenager to spread her legs in order for him to determine if she had a distinctive tattoo in her genital region. At that point, Reid finally rebelled, telling the perverted stranger that the examination was over. Womack issued a warning to the driver, and the teenagers went on their way.

At the time, Reid later recalled, the teens were relieved, rather than outraged, because nobody got a ticket.

Womack's comrades at the BCSO.
 About ten months later, following her 18th birthday, Reid contacted the Box Elder Sheriff’s Office to have the spurious drug warrant removed from her record. The clerk with whom Reid spoke informed her that there was no warrant, and never had been. 

Reid also found out that Womack didn’t file a record of the traffic stop or the warning he had issued to the driver. She was also told that her that several other complaints had been received about Womack’s behavior. 

Shortly after Reid filed a lawsuit against Box Elder County, Womack was allowed to “leave employment” at the Sheriff’s Office – but he was permitted to keep his law enforcement certification until the lawsuit was made public. By that time it had been known, for more than a year, that Womack was in the habit of conducting undocumented traffic stops in which he neither filed reports nor turned on his dashcam recorder. 

In the August 2011 press conference announcing her lawsuit, Reid insisted that, however inexplicably, she still “believed in law enforcement,” but that her experience left her experiencing nightmares that would cause her to “wake up screaming.” 

The indelible trauma experienced by Reid and Womack’s other victims could easily have turned out even worse if any of them had put up even the slightest physical resistance to the deputy’s sexual assaults. 

Reid, who was undressed and alone in Deputy Aqualung’s Creepmobile, might consider herself to be blessed: If Womack had decided not to let the victim leave after she refused to undergo a genital examination, Reid most likely would have been arrested for resisting arrest and “assaulting” the sexual predator who had detained her.

Womack is hardly the first uniformed sociopath to force females to disrobe at gunpoint. In 2009, the City of Scottsdale, Arizona hit up local tax victims to pay a $315,000 settlement to a 19-year-old woman who was the victim of a similar sexual assault by former Police officer Chong Kim. In that case, the 19-year-old made the mistake of calling the police for “help” with intruders in her apartment. When Chong arrived, he noticed that the teenager had been drinking, a fact that he used as leverage to order her to “get naked.” After that woman filed a complaint, it was discovered that Chong had committed similar crimes against as many as 20 other women. Chong was forced to resign. There is no record of him being prosecuted for his crimes. 

Under SB 131, the newly enacted Utah law on “battering” a law enforcement officer, a future victim of a similar sexual assault by a cop – and there will be others – could be charged with a felony if she tries to escape. 
Sweet and Innocent -- and misled: Sen. Osmond (r.) with students.
During a February 7 Utah Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on SB 131, State Senator Aaron Osmond explained that he filed the bill in response to a “constituent request” from a police officer in his district. Osmond recruited four students from Copper Hills High School to serve as “co-presenters” of the bill

Each of these earnest young people dutifully recited pious platitudes about the sterling nobility of the state’s armed enforcement caste, the 
all-encompassing danger in which they constantly find themselves, the vulgar ingratitude of those who would criticize them, and the moral obligation of the public “to protect them” (yes, one witness actually used those words). 

The last witness, a young woman named Allison (whose last name I will not mention), denounced “aggressors” who would do injury to “the heroes who promote our well-being every day…. Let’s do all we can to increase the safety of our honorable officers.” 

Dear Allison: Have you met Tamsen Reid? I’m sure she would be interested in having a chat with you about the uniformed hero who was so zealous to promote Reid’s “well-being” that he tried to force her, at gunpoint, to undergo an unauthorized gynecological exam in his patrol vehicle. 


Dum spiro, pugno!

Friday, May 17, 2013

The Terror Cartel Strikes in Idaho

During a May 15 visit to Stockholm, Secretary of State John Kerry warned Syrian ruler Bashar al-Assad that if he doesn’t begin preparations to abdicate his office, “the opposition will be receiving additional support … and unfortunately the violence will not end.”

Under the rhetorical conventions governing the cynical profession called “diplomacy,” Kerry wasn’t allowed to make his threat explicit. Fortunately, Tennessee Republican Senator Bob Corker labors under no such restrictions.
“I do think we’ll be arming the opposition shortly,” Corker told CBS News on May 7, referring to a measure that will be put before the Senate next week

While alluding to the fact that Washington is already covertly arming the Syrian insurgents, Corker made it clear that the military aid wouldn’t be restricted to rebel groups that have already been housebroken, explaining that “we have to change the equation” because “the moderate opposition groups we support are not as good at fighting” as the more ruthless factions that specialize in terrorizing non-combatants, executing prisoners, and whose leaders mutilate and cannibalize the dead bodies of their enemies.

It is impossible for Washington to provide military or “humanitarian” assistance to the Syrian insurgency without materially aiding hyper-violent factions such as the Jabhat al-Nursah, which is listed on the State Department’s roster of terrorist organizations. 

Under federal law, providing material aid of any kind – from money to shaving cream to ammunition – to a listed terrorist group is a felonious offense. A few years ago, the regime sentenced a Long Island cable TV operator named Javed Iqbal to 69 months in prison because his cable system broadcast programs produced by a network owned by Hezbollah. 

Iqbal was imprisoned as punishment for allowing words spoken in support of a listed terrorist group to be broadcast through his cable system – yet high-ranking officials in the same regime that sent him to prison are openly discussing their plans to arm Syrian Jihadists.

On May 16, the same regime that is providing support to Syrian terrorists conducted a raid in Boise to arrest an Uzbek national named Fazluddin Kurbanov, who has been accused of providing material support to a listed terrorist group called the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU). As headline bait, the Feds also charged Kurbanov with possessing components of a “weapon of mass destruction,” which in this case appears to be a homemade hand grenade. 

Federal prosecutors, including Wendy Olson, the hyper-ambitious legal commissarina assigned to Idaho, insist that the public was never at danger, because Kurbanov had been under surveillance for a long time, and the threat he posed had been contained. This means we should anticipate the all-but-inevitable disclosure that Kurbanov was being manipulated by an undercover operative working as a “terrorism facilitator” on behalf of the regime.

As we should expect, the IMU is a violent group whose objectives are not entirely laudable. This doesn’t make them a threat to our country, however. In fact, their chief grievance is one most Americans would find understandable: They want to overthrow a fetid police state run by a Communist gangster.

A profile of the group published by the Foreign Military Studies Office at Ft. Leavenworth recounts how the IMU grew out of a private security group that was created by Uzbek businessmen in the early 1990s. It was originally a non-ideological, non-sectarian self-defense organization that protected citizens and business owners against criminal syndicates that grew out of the Communist nomenklatura

By 1991, the group had fallen under the leadership of a young mullah named Tahir Yuldashev, who gave it an explicitly Muslim character and – with the help of a veteran of the Soviet war in Afghanistan – organized it into a private police force. In December of that year, the group occupied the local Communist Party headquarters in Namagan. 

Thinking he could intimidate the group into dispersing, Uzbek Communist Party leader Islam Karimov paid a personal visit to Namagan – only to be publicly humiliated by Yuldashev, who refused to back down. This earned the IMU the undying enmity of Karimov, who banned the group and declared war on it when he became the ruler of Uzbekistan following the break-up of the Soviet Union.

Karimov, a Stalin-grade despot, remains in power today. As one would expect from a product of the Soviet ruling elite, Karimov is sustained in his rule by secret police who were trained by the Soviet KGB. This has made Karimov’s regime a very useful subcontractor for Washington in its war against – well, anybody impudent enough to challenge its claims to unqualified global supremacy. Terrorists willing to serve Washington's interests -- whether they are Syrian insurrectionists or practitioners of state terrorism, like Karimov -- enjoy protection as part of Washington's official terror cartel

The KGB-constructed dungeons in Uzbekistan have been – and, for all we know, continue to be – prime destinations for people abducted by the CIA for the purpose of prolonged detention and torture. 

During the reign of Bush the Lesser, Craig Murray, the former British ambassador to Tashkent, exposed his government’s collaboration in the CIA’s torture program in Uzbekistan. This led to Murray losing his job and enduring the kind of focused persecution reserved for public servants who publicly condemn the criminal actions of their employers.

“If you are put into prison in Uzbekistan,” wrote Murray after he was purged by his government, “the chances of coming out again alive are less than even. And most of the prisons are still the old Soviet gulags in the most literal sense.” 

A few weeks into his term as British ambassador, Murray attended a show trial of an elderly man who had been tortured into confessing involvement with al-Qaeda, and implicating his nephew as well. This totalitarian auto-da-fe, he recalls, was staged “for the benefit of the American embassy to demonstrate the strength of the U.S.-Uzbek alliance against terrorism.”

To Karimov’s embarrassment, and the discomfiture of his invited guests, the victim refused to follow the script. Summoning the heroic strength of an innocent man with nothing to lose, the frail defendant defiantly told the tribunal: “This is not true. This is not true. They tortured my children in front of me until I signed this. I had never heard of al-Qaeda or Osama bin Laden.”

Karimov and his comrades had hoped to offer a gift to their new patrons in Washington in the form of a broken and contrite “terrorist” whose confession would demonstrate the efficiency of their interrogation program. Instead they had to be content with dragging this pitiful old man outside the courtroom to be shot.

According to Ambassador Murray, Karimov’s secret police frequently make use of beatings, whippings, and genital mutilation. Asphyxiation, “usually by putting a gas mask on people and blocking the air vents until they suffocated,” is another favorite method, Murray reports as well as  “rape with objects, rape with bottles, anal rape, homosexual rape, heterosexual rape, and mutilation of children in front of their parents.”

Murray has described the case of a man named Muzafar Avazzov, who was submerged in boiling liquid after being beaten and having his fingernails ripped from his hands by Karimov’s CIA-allied secret police. He was hardly the only detainee who was murdered by being boiled alive. 

After learning of these atrocities, Murray compiled a large dossier and expressed his outrage to his superiors – only to be rebuked for being “over-focused on human rights.” This led the ambassador to send a deputy to the CIA station chief to deliver a formal protest. The U.S. functionary deflected criticisms by boasting about the quality of the “intelligence that had been extracted through torture, and by reciting the familiar claim that torture is a trivial concern “in the context of the war on terror.”

Significantly, the U.S. government designated the IMU a terrorist group in 2005 – at the height (or depth) of official cooperation with Karimov’s torture-state, which in that year conducted a bloody operation to suppress dissent that left several hundred people dead. 

None of the U.S. officials who collaborated with Karimov’s KGB-trained torturers has been punished. It’s not clear whether that collaboration continues today. Now that the regime in Washington simply assassinates people through drone strikes, it may no longer have use for such crude methods of intelligence collection. 

The Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan is a violent and dangerous group, but it has never posed a measurable threat to the safety of Americans. The same is probably true of Fazladdin Kurbanov. However, this is emphatically not true of the regime whose secret police operatives kept Kurbanov under surveillance in his Boise apartment.

Following Kurbanov’s arrest, Boise-area talk radio programs resounded with ritualistic recitals of the prescribed talking points: We must remain “vigilant” and incurably suspicious of our neighbors – especially dusky-skinned people with exotic surnames – because our enemies are implacable, endlessly devious, and incurably determined to dominate us or murder everyone who resists. We don’t yet have reason to believe this description applies to Kurbanov. However, it does make a perfect fit for the government that is prosecuting him for the crime of seeking to undermine a ruler who is a prominent member of Washington's officially sanctioned terror cartel.

Dum spiro, pugno!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

The Persecution of Rita Hutchens

Midnight Knock: Bonner County Sheriff's Deputies invade the home of Rita Hutchens.

Sandpoint, Idaho resident Rita Hutchens is an opinionated 57-year-old quilt artist whose work has earned her international notoriety. Given that Hutchens is also an outspoken proponent of constitutionalist views, it’s possible that some people have taken issue with her political opinions. 

Hutchens has never harmed or threatened another human being. Yet local officials, led by Bonner County Deputy Prosecutor Shane Greenbank -- an inventively dishonest official -- are trying to make a criminal out of her. Failing that, they might simply seek to have her imprisoned indefinitely in a psych ward. 

Around midnight on April 16, three Bonner County Sheriff’s Deputies invaded Rita’s home while she was asleep and half-clothed on her living room sofa. The deputies were enforcing a bench warrant issued several weeks earlier after Hutchens had failed to appear for a preliminary hearing on a misdemeanor charge. 

In Idaho, as elsewhere, it is exceptionally rare for police to serve warrants after sundown. In its ruling in the 2011 case Idaho v. Skurlock, the Idaho Supreme Court recognized that at night time people “have a heightened expectation of privacy that should not be disturbed by a knock on the door and the presentation of a search warrant.” In addition, executing a warrant at night “increases the likelihood of violence because nighttime searches cause an abrupt intrusion on sleeping occupants in a home, thus increasing the potential for a violent reaction from the occupants.” 

The bold and valiant deputies who kicked in Rita Hutchens’s door at midnight acted in the serene confidence that they had no reason to expect a violent reaction on the part of their terrified victim. 

The officials responsible for the Stasi-style midnight raid maintain that there was an element of urgency because she is suspected of a violent crime, to wit: battery on a city official at Sandpoint City Hall last August 12. If they are in a particularly creative mood, city authorities might embellish that charge by saying that it involved an impact weapon.

The implement of mayhem allegedly employed by Hutchens in the supposed assault on Deputy Clerk Melissa Ward was not a club, a set of brass knuckles, or throwing stars. It was a ballpoint pen.

No, really. 

Furthermore, according to the sober and dutiful public servants who witnessed the attack, Hutchens did not hurl that potentially death-dealing projectile at Ward; instead, she threw it down on a tabletop, and the terrorized agent of the public weal was injured by a ricochet.

Somehow, Ward stoically fought through her trauma and finished her shift without being treated by paramedics. Significantly, although she did fill out a police report, Ward never swore out a criminal complaint. 
Sandpoint City Attorney Scott Campbell (l.).
Hutchens filed a subpoena demanding that Ward, the alleged victim, provide a sworn and signed criminal complaint. 

Last November 14, the Idaho First District Court granted a motion by Sandpoint City Attorney Scott Campbell to quash that subpoena, ruling that “requiring Ms. Ward, the victim in this matter, to provide a signed complaint is unreasonable.” 

What this means is that there is no victim of record in the August 12 “battery” incident, and no criminal intent behind Hutchens’s actions – unless, of course, Greenbank wants to pretend that this middle-aged woman deviously set up a bank-shot for the purpose of wounding the clerk. On the basis of his behavior toward Hutchens – another example of which we will examine anon -- I’m convinced that Greenbank and his comrades possess sufficient cynicism to make that claim. 
Two of Sandpoint's (snicker) "Finest."
The patently spurious nature of the charge against Hutchens is brought into focus once it’s understood why she had visited City Hall: She was there to review public records related to an incident in 2011 in which she was assaulted and illegally arrested by Sandpoint police officer Theresa Heberer.

At the time of her encounter with Officer Heberer, Hutchens was in the middle of evicting a deadbeat tenant (who, as it happened, had been arrested the previous day on outstanding warrants). She visited her property to determine if the power and water had been shut off. When Hutchens drove by the property – making two passes when she saw the renter talking with Officer Heberer – the tenant claimed that Hutchens had been “stalking” or “harassing” her. On the basis of that complaint from a manifestly unreliable source, Heberer got into her patrol vehicle and followed Hutchens to her home.

Heberer demanded that Hutchens submit to an interrogation. Hutchens, who didn’t want to be bothered by a police officer – what decent and rational person would? – replied that she had nothing to say, invoked the Fifth Amendment, and turned to enter her home. Heberer responded by committing criminal trespass, then compounded that crime by seizing Hutchens and violently throwing her to the ground. 

When her supervisor arrived on the scene, Heberer claimed that the encounter began with a traffic stop dealing with an expired registration. This was a lie, of course. Seeking to find some charge to justify the criminal violence inflicted on Hutchens, Heberer and her supervisor pored over the statute book and eventually decided to charge the victim with “resisting and obstructing” a police officer.

That charge was entirely without merit – a fact recognized by Magistrate Judge Barbara Buchanan when she threw it out of court.

“There was no reason to touch her,” Judge Buchanan observed. “She did not have to answer [Officer Heberer’s] questions. She has a Fifth Amendment right not to do that…. You can’t be charged with resisting and obstructing for exercising your Fifth Amendment right, and she did have every right to say, `I don’t want to answer your questions, I want to go in my house.’ There is no basis for an arrest, there is no reason for a search warrant.”

Unlike Melissa Ward, Hutchens was physically harmed by Heberer’s assault, in addition to suffering the indelible injury of being handcuffed and unlawfully detained. She filed a $250,000 damage claim with the City of Sandpoint, which was rejected by Idaho Counties Risk Management Program. So she filed a notice of tort claim announcing her intention to sue the city for violating her civil rights.

It was in preparation for that lawsuit that Hutchens was researching public records at City Hall on August. As she did so, she was followed by a city official who carried a digital recorder and may well have been trying to bait her into some kind of actionable misconduct. 

As Sgt. Riffel noted in his official report of the incident, “Rita Hutchens… has a fairly tense relationship with the City, and has pending lawsuits against them.”
Had he possessed a particle of moral discernment and a rudimentary sense of honor, Riffel would have recognized that the battery complaint was an act of petty retaliation against a citizen regarded as an irritant. His reaction should have been to shake his head in disgust, put away his notebook, and tell the “victim” and her cronies to behave like adults. But this would have meant defending the rights of a Mundane, which would be impermissible. 

Accordingly, Riffel – acting in the interests of Tax Feeder solidarity – filed his report and swore out the probable cause affidavit.

The criminal complaint against Hutchens, which was composed by Greenbank, is a masterpiece of bureaucratic hyperbole. It claims that Hutchens “did willfully and unlawfully use force or violence upon the person of Melissa Ward by striking Ward with a pen, or, in the alternative, did actually, intentionally, and unlawfully touch or strike the person of Melissa Ward against her will by striking Ward with a pen.” This, sniffs Greenbank with the practiced pomposity of a pampered parasite, was a grave offense “against the peace and dignity of the State of Idaho.”
Public menace? Rita Hutchens.
Ward suffered no injury. There is no evidence that Hutchens intended to do her any harm. By way of contrast, judicial notice has been taken of the incontrovertible fact that Officer Theresa Heberer did “willfully and unlawfully use force or violence” upon the person of Rita Hutchens in an assault that did injure the victim.

It is precisely because Hutchens is seeking redress for the criminal violence she suffered at the hands of Heberer and her comrades that Greenbank – acting on behalf of the local political class – is seeking to imprison her.

As his florid description of Hutchens’s purported offense demonstrates, Greenbank is a bit of a drama queen. This got him into trouble in his last gig, during which he afflicted the residents of neighboring Kootenai County. During opening arguments in a September 2008 domestic violence trial, Greenbank – who at the time was Deputy Prosecutor for Kootenai County – broke down in tears and theatrically asked for a tissue as he recounted the alleged crimes of the defendant

This display left First District Judge Fred Gilber thoroughly unimpressed. Chastising Greenbank for trying to manipulate the jury, Gilber declared a mistrial. Predictably, Greenbank’s initial reaction was to lie, insisting that he hadn’t been crying and certainly had “no intent to appeal to the passions of the jury.” However, the trial transcript documents that he admitted, “I did have tears running down my face, I did have snot running down my face.”

Nor was this the first time that Greenback or his colleagues had sought to manipulate a jury. As he declared a mistrial, Judge Gilber pointed out: “In [a] recent case the Court of Appeals has singled out the Kootenai County Prosecutor’s Office for appealing to the passions or prejudice of the jury.”
For the last six months, Hutchens has been acting as her own attorney. 

Greenbank, who has no appropriate credentials, claims that she has exhibited “unusually behaviors and affects – both in court and in her filings. It is evident that her mood is changeable, and her thoughts are disorganized.” He filed, and was granted, a motion ordering Hutchens to undergo a mandatory psychological evaluation.
Judge Buchanan is on the left; Judge Heise is on the right.
Embedded in that May 2 order is a remarkable claim that was introduced by Magistrate Judge Debra Heise without a particle of supporting evidence. Listed among the examples of Hutchens’s “unusual behaviors and affects” was the act of “battering the assigned prosecuting attorney [Greenbank] outside of court when he served papers to her in the clerk’s office….”

That description would lead the untutored reader to assume that Rita Hutchens, a 57-year-old woman who stands about 5’1” and weighs all of 110 pounds, boldly attacked the intrepid paladin of the public weal in full view of witnesses, and somehow managed to avoid being dragged away in chains.

What actually happened was that Greenbank shoved a sheaf of legal papers in Hutchens’s face – and she replied in kind by shoving them right back at him. In other words, just as she had “battered” Melissa Ward by accidentally striking her in the arm with a ballpoint pen, she “battered” Shane Greenbank by pushing papers at him. Although this would hardly be enough to injure a child, it should be acknowledged that on Greenbank’s previous performance, trivial contact of this kind would be quite enough to make him cry.

It should also be noted that Greenbank’s sense of moral outrage over crimes of violence is oddly adaptable. While he is treating Rita Hutchens as if she were a public menace, last August he agreed to a plea bargain by a man accused of hog-tying one handicapped 12-year-old child, and choking another one.  The assailant in that case agreed to misdemeanor charges that led to a total of two weeks in jail. 

The May 2 order for Hutchens to undergo a mental evaluation specifies that Dr. Carl Haugan, a “designated licensed psychiatrist,” will file a report on Hutchens’s mental condition by May 23. If she refuses to cooperate, the order explains, “the report shall so state and shall include, if possible, an opinion as to whether such unwillingness of the defendant was the result of mental disease or defect.” 

Judge Heise – whose trough is filled with a $107,043 annual salary plundered from more honest people in the private sector -- clearly sought to prejudice the evaluation by imputing to Hutchens, as a matter of record, “unusual behaviors and affects” as well as a tendency toward “violence” – as supposedly demonstrated in the two instances of “battery.” If, on the other hand, Hutchens refused to submit to an evaluation foreordained to find her incompetent, her refusal is to be taken as proof of her mental incapacity. 

Not surprisingly, Hutchens has refused to play her scripted role in this cynical charade – in defiance of threats to have her arrested and jailed for defying the court order. If Hutchens were taken into state custody, it’s entirely possible that Greenbank would seek to have her involuntarily committed for psychiatric treatment. While thus detained, she would be unable to pursue her lawsuit against the City of Sandpoint – which is almost certainly the point of this entire campaign of official persecution.

Thanks again -- and an update
My family and I continue to be blessed by your generosity, and we are deeply grateful. I'm still being treated for my infection, which is in remission but remains a frustratingly tenacious adversary. Hopefully I'll see an official end to my IV treatments next Tuesday. Thank you, once again, for your kindness. It means more to us than I can adequately express. 

Dum spiro, pugno!