Law and Disorder Radio

Law and Disorder October 12, 2009

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twitterlogo elliotmadison

Elliot Madison: Activist Arrested for Using Twitter To Communicate With G20 Protesters.

Elliot Madison, a social worker and activist was arrested in Pittsburgh last month during the G20 Summit and was charged with hindering apprehension or prosecution, criminal use of a communication facility and possession of instruments of crime. The Pennsylvania State Police say he was found in a hotel room with police scanners and computers while using the social networking site Twitter to communicate police movements to protesters. Madison recently said “They arrested me for doing the same thing everybody else was doing, which was perfectly legal,” he said. “It was crucial for people to have the information we were sending.” Madison’s laywer Martin Stolar told the New York Times   “He and a friend were part of a communications network among people protesting the G-20,” Mr. Madison’s lawyer, Martin Stolar, said. “There’s absolutely nothing that he’s done that should subject him to any criminal liability.”

Attorney Martin Stolar:

  • It seems it would be helping out the police in a way. They’re saying disperse, don’t go here, don’t go there.
  • They selected him for some reason amid all the various people posting things on twitter boards
  • They got a search warrant for his hotel room, rousted he and a colleague who was there, arrested Elliot and he was held on a 30 thousand dollar bail.
  • Unfortunately, agents of the FBI, and the Joint Terrorism Task Force, showed up at his home in Queens, with a search warrant issued by a Federal Court in Brooklyn, seeking evidence of violating the federal anti-rioting laws. (H.Rap Brown Act) Think about the Chicago 8.
  • They spent 16 hours  searching his home, grabbing everything in sight, it was terribly unclear what would violate this law.  So they took pictures of Lenin, his writings, computers, material from producing a documentary film.
  • The warrants seemed properly issued, until I can see the affidavits that underlie the warrant.
  • I whipped up some legal papers to show cause and a motion under Federal rules of criminal procedure 41G. A motion for the return of property illegally seized.
  • He is accused of posting stuff that is publicly available, that is a police scanner that is posted on the internet, such as a police order to disperse.
  • That information is passed on through the Twitter board and that constitutes the crime that he is charged with.
  • Law enforcement is targeting those who provide support for lawful demonstrations.
  • This case is a first in Pennsylvania and a real stretch in criminal law to penalize what is essentially speech
  • In New York, there is potentially a separate investigation in which Elliot is a target
  • The so-called Green Revolution in Iran, the demonstrators were using Twitter, in exactly the same way the folks in the G20 used it. When the oppressive government came down on the Iranian students using Twitter, the US State Dept said, wait a minute there are free speech issues here.

Guest – Attorney Martin Stolar, president of the New York chapter of the National Lawyers Guild.

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joe sullivan juvenile

Supreme Court To Argue Life Without Parole Cases For Children

The Supreme Court will address whether it’s constitutional to sentence a child to be imprisoned for life without parole for an offense committed during adolescence. There will be two main cases the Supreme Court will argue.  One is the case involving Joe Sullivan. Joe, at the time, was a mentally disabled 13 year old child living in a home where he was physically and sexually abused. He was convinced to participate in a burglary of a home. The elderly home owner was sexually abused, though she didn’t see her attacker. Joe was tried in an adult court, found guilty and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.  He was fourteen when he was sent to an adult prison, there he was abused and later diagnosed with MS.  That is a summary of one of the cases.

Professor Stephen Harper:

  • 2400 Kids in jail serving life sentences without parole in the US. 120 of those kids didn’t commit homicides.
  • The United States is the only country in the world that sentences children to life, without the possibility of parole
  • Part of this sentencing of kids was an accident, they were getting tougher on adults in the early 80s and 90s.
  • There should be an opportunity, Sullivan’s lawyer argued that at some point they could be granted parole
  • Florida is the number one state that puts children in prison for life without the possibility of parole

Guest – Stephen Harper, Adjunct professor of  Juvenile Justice University of Miami school of Law.

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Policestaredown riotpolice2

National Lawyers Guild Observes Improper Use of Force by Law Enforcement at the G-20

Many listeners have probably seen the videos of the G20 protesters going up against hundreds of riot police. Some of the most compelling footage were of reckless use of LRAD, the sonic weapons, and the surge of riot police onto the University of  Pittsburgh campus. Many students who were not protesting were rounded up, knocked down, tear gassed and beaten by police. We reported last month on the blatant violations of first amendment rights as local police engaged in patterns of harassment on activists such as the group Seeds for Peace. Today we hear first hand accounts of police abuse from our own Heidi Boghosian who was at the marches and demonstrations as a legal observer and we’ll be joined by attorney Joel Kupferman, who was also at the also a legal observer with National Lawyers Guild at the G20 Summit.     Read Heidi’s G20 Blog Entry Here

Heidi Boghosian / Joel Kupferman

  • LRAD Sonic Weapons combined with order to disperse.  You had to cover your ears, some stayed still, paralyzed.  We think it’s illegal, it’s and invasion, it’s a weapon.
  • One of the legal angles, we’re looking into is the fifth amendment, where we charged Christine Todd Whitman after 9/11 for violating our fifth amendment rights of bodily integrity and in this case, that sound pierced that bodily integrity.
  • The manufacturer of the device (LRAD) filed in their SEC filings of Sept 2008 that the device is capable of sufficient acoustic output to cause damage to human hearing or human health, expressing concern that the  misuse could lead to lawsuits.
  • Private security police forces were employed. They went up the hill, onto the campus and students were just coming out of their dorms, hearing this noise, the helicopters, they didn’t know whether they should stay in their buildings. They started to arrest people who didn’t know what was going on.
  • This is the highest police per protester ratio I’ve ever seen, definitely a radicalizing experience for these students, definitely no cause for arrests. Wantonly arresting people in a violent fashion.
  • When we spoke to shop owners downtown, there was a hatred, I’ve never seen before. The sympathy came from the neighborhoods of color, it was a climate of fear, they were basically saying, you can’t assemble.
  • It almost seemed like it was a police convention. The Pittsburgh Police Department wore military fatigues.  I saw more Canine Units there then any other demonstration.

Guest – Attorney Joel Kupferman, National Lawyers Guild Legal Observer /New York Environmental Law and Justice Project

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