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Thursday, September 2, 2010

Judging The George Donnelly Case

Finally, a legal travesty is over. It all started on May 11, 2010 with three activists handing out Fully Informed Jury Association literature in front of the federal courthouse in Allentown, PA. It ended on September 1, 2010 with George Donnelly being sentenced to time served and paying a $525.00 fine. All of his property was returned though the video he took of the incident was deleted from his camera.

George, while filming the outreach event, was originally arrested and charged with felony assault on a female Court Security Officer (CSO) which, according to witnesses, he didn’t do. This charge carries an eight year sentence. The conditions of his release after two days in federal custody included house arrest, wearing an ankle bracelet, turning in his passport, and his firearms. By the time of his initial appearance hearing on June 22, 2010 the charges had been reduced to misdemeanor simple assault and two Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) violations . (Legally, CFRs are somewhat equivalent to parking tickets.) In the end George was forced to "voluntarily" agree to a plea bargain in which he plead guilty to a CFR concerning disobeying a federal law enforcement officer on federal property. All other charges were dropped.

This was a travesty on many levels. The three activists were merely exercising their right to inform juries that they can judge the law as well as the facts of a case. This is commonly known as jury nullification and is a clearly established legal principle. A jury may find a defendant not guilty even though the law has been broken for whatever reason, including not agreeing that what the defendant did should be illegal. Naturally, the government doesn’t like this fact and apparently doesn’t like the information about it getting out.

During the trial several strange things were claimed. One of the oddest would have to be the government asserting that the CSOs saw George filming so they went out to investigate. Once out, they claim, he had an unknown object he was hiding in his hands held between his legs. The contradiction there needs no further comment. (It is my understanding that George did later place the camera against his body to prevent the CSOs from taking it from him.)

Continuing, George’s attorney, Paul Hetznecker, stated that they were acceding to "modification of the facts" to arrive at the agreed upon version of the event. Which brings up the question, why do the facts need to be modified in court proceedings? The na├»ve may think that courts seek the truth, experience teaches us the opposite.

Ignored during this whole process was the fact that the government’s story kept changing. There were two complaints filed with differing sworn statements made by the same CSO, Enrique Trevino. Both alleged that George assaulted a CSO. The final "agreed to" version of the incident makes no mention of any assault. In a rational court these facts alone would have gotten the case dismissed. After all, the prosecution presented no evidence. They deleted George’s video of the incident and even though there are surveillance cameras outside the courthouse they presented none of their own.

Later in the proceedings, the judge, Henry S. Perkin, cited the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, OK as a justification for the CSOs aggression. Saying that the right of the employees and visitors in the federal courthouse in Allentown, PA to be safe trumps the right to free speech. It may have been a slip of the tongue, but the judge said "The system is not sensitive to your rights". Thanks for clearing that up, judge.

On a lighter note, Jim Babb, who was present in front of the courthouse when George was arrested, confronted Trevino after the trial calling him a liar. This lead to threats of arrest for harassment and got us all evicted from the fourth floor, where the courtroom is located.

We regrouped in the lobby to wait for George who was in a conference with his lawyer. As we waited our friend Trevino walked by. Jim began loudly speaking about the immorality of their lies and actions, questioning whether they had consciences, and asking how can they sleep at night. Trevino sarcastically answered "very comfortably".

After a while George appeared with his lawyer and the two of them accompanied by Jim Babb and myself went into the back room to recover his, George’s, stolen property. Raw footage of the taking out of the guns can be seen here.

George left immediately after the trial to attend to family matters. The rest of us went to a nearby restaurant to eat, drink, and go over the events of the day:

An observation about the whole affair. The people involved in the federal legal system may truly believe themselves to be standing up for what’s right. To be defending themselves, and therefore us, from evildoers. This is pure rationalization on their part. The system serves itself and those that are part of it at the expense of the rest of the world. They are driven by fear to create a situation in which they rule only by force and lies. They, not some foreign fanatics, are the true enemies of liberty.

Some insightful protester modified a sign outside the courthouse to better reflect their priorities. Your became our:


  1. 1. Was the video deleted or was it wiped. One is recoverable.

    2. Deleting video is deleting evidence. That would be a criminal act.

    3. Time to sue. 42USC1983.

  2. 1. George used the word deleted
    2. What makes you think that the law applies to law enforcement? It should but sadly doesn't.
    3. Perhaps, that's up to George.

    Thanks for the comment.

  3. Julian Heicklen - Progress Report, September 2, 2010

  4. I enjoyed reading this piece. May I have your permission to post this on my blog with links to your site as well as listing who it was who wrote it?


  5. While the George Donnelly case was a callous display of heinous government perversion of justice, the prosecution of ALL income tax prosecutions has been concluded to be blatant disregard for the most fundamental precepts of Due Process, such as an indictment must allege a crime to be valid. Ref. Part 4, revised.

  6. soooo, why did george plead guilty?

  7. "Anonymous said...

    soooo, why did george plead guilty? "

    I haven't asked him yet, but the way that usually works is that the plea bargain is a sweet deal compared to being convicted of the more serious charges. His lawyer must have felt that they would nail him for assault if he didn't take the deal.

  8. George interviewed on FreeTalkLive:

  9. The real downfall of America can be seen in the actions of George Donnelly--the American public doesn't have the love of freedom burning in their hearts, there are too many other things to occupy the time of those who should be willing and able to put their lives on the line for freedom, instead we read that "George left to take care of family matters after the trial"--that was more important from the beginning to him, his own life and liberty, which is why he accepted the expensive home arrest process instead of staying in jail and sticking it to the government by suing the jail, the feds, and the court system. The only way to win this type of situation, is to be willing to spend time in jail, demand a jury trial, don't accept any type of plea, and what will happen, of course, is usually the charges will be dropped for "time served" and there never will be a trial, as law enforcement doesn't want to appear in open court to be embarrassed, and then you can sue for false arrest, failure to prosecute, etc. If it did go to trial, we must all be able to defend ourselves (pro se or in propia persona) in the courtroom, which requires being able to speak publicly, and not let our personal involvment in the case affect our courtroom actions--that's hard, but can be done with practice before your city council or county commissioners on a regular basis,it is the only method of fighting the system that will win--because if you don't have the stomach to handle imprisonment for a period of time, you probably don't have what it takes to engage in real warfare against this evil, ungodly usurpation of government under which we in the USA live either. And yes, I am one who sued myself out of the state prison system, when I didn't even want to be released, but since I had a winning suit, they suddenly found a parole date, so they could move to dismiss my suit as a moot issue after my release! There is no hope of freedom for those who are not willing and able to suffer-- pain, lose of loved ones, money, reputation, even life itself! Where is your love placed?

  10. Anonymous,

    While I thank you for the comment & see by your actions that you walk the walk, as it were, you judge George too harshly. You don't know what those family matters you cite are & while I'm not about to get into them publicly I can assure you they are very serious.

    You are right about the jury trial. The govt figured it out too. When they reduced the charges under federal law George lost the right to a jury trial. It became all up to the judge.

    In closing I would ask 2 things of you. Keep up your fight for liberty & please don't judge George so harshly.