Hyprocracy, politicians, and the Constitution

As a constitutional lawyer, I’m a failure if my adherence to the Constitution changes according to politics. Should it be any different for politicians, who take the same oath to defend the Constitution of the United States? Should principles change according to whom they are being applied to? Of course not. Here are some facts:

During President Obama’s presidency, there were 10 TIMES more covert drone strikes than under Bush.

“A total of 563 strikes, largely by drones, targeted Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen during Obama’s two terms, compared to 57 strikes under Bush. Between 384 and 807 civilians were killed in those countries….” (https://www.thebureauinvestigates.com/…/obamas-covert-drone…)

So this wasn’t even counting strikes in Afghanistan. This was drone killings in sovereign countries, with whom we were not at war; and nor was there any congressional authorization or oversight of these drone killings. “Obama also began an air campaign targeting Yemen. His first strike was a catastrophe: commanders thought they were targeting al Qaeda but instead hit a tribe with cluster munitions, killing 55 people. Twenty-one were children – 10 of them under five. Twelve were women, five of them pregnant.” (Id.)

On March 19, 2011, Obama literally invaded the sovereign country of Libya, unilaterally approving airstrikes. There had been no congressional authorization. From a 2019 Politico piece looking back on the disaster:

“Obama said the military action sought to save the lives of peaceful, pro-democracy protesters who found themselves the target of a crackdown by Libyan dictator Moammar Gaddafi.”

“Speaking on March 28 at the National Defense University in Washington, Obama said: “The United States and the world faced a choice. Gadhafi declared he would show ‘no mercy’ to his own people. He compared them to rats and threatened to go door to door to inflict punishment. In the past, we have seen him hang civilians in the streets, and kill over a thousand people in a single day.”

“It was not in our national interest to let that [massacre] happen. I refused to let that happen.”

“But Kuperman, an associate professor at the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin, held in his article that the NATO allies’ assessment turned out to be premature.”

“As he put it: “In retrospect, Obama’s intervention in Libya was an abject failure, judged even by its own standards. Libya has not only failed to evolve into a democracy; it has devolved into a failed state. Violent deaths and other human rights abuses have increased severalfold.”

“Rather than helping the United States combat terrorism, as Gadhafi did during his last decade in power, Libya [began to serve] as a safe haven for militias affiliated with both al-Qaida and the Islamic State of Iraq (ISIS). The Libya intervention has harmed other U.S. interests as well: undermining nuclear nonproliferation, chilling Russian cooperation at the U.N., and fueling Syria’s civil war.”

(Politico: THIS DAY IN POLITICS
Obama approves airstrikes against Libya, March 19, 2011
By ANDREW GLASS 03/19/2019 – 3/19/19: https://www.politico.com/…/barack-obama-libya-airstrikes-12…)

You may ask yourself, was Pelosi in Congress then? Yes she was. Was Manchin a U.S. Senator then? Yes he was. He’s been there since 2010. Shifty Schiff? Yep. So did they show the same concerns then, about actual airstrikes against a sovereign country for the purpose of regime change, and which led to a disastrous regime change? Let’s see…..

Congress actually did pass a resolution at that time, directing the President, pursuant to the War Powers Resolution, to remove all U.S. military armed forces from the country of Libya. There was a roll call vote on June 3, 2011. Any guesses on whether Nancy Pelosi voted for it? She voted “Nay,” meaning allowing U.S. forces to stay inside Libya with no congressional authorization, and for no real national security benefit to the U.S., since Obama said it was just to help innocent protesters (who turned out to be ISIS by the way – an innocent mistake on his behalf I’m sure).

Guess who else voted against the resolution? Shifty Schiff. In fact, most of the Democrats voted against it. Manchin couldn’t vote, because he was in the Senate, not the House, where the vote took place. Also, it failed in the House because the Democrats voted against it. Man they seem to have really become more concerned with the Constitution and the limitation of presidential war powers since then…. Coincidence, I’m sure.

So what was Joe Manchin’s opinion about the Libya disaster? In March of 2011, according to the Charleston Gazette, he was “concerned” but thought the President had legal authority to do it:

“Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., said Monday he was concerned about U.S. military operations in Libya.”We don’t have a good record of getting in and out,” Manchin said during a stop at the University of Charleston.Manchin did not, however, raise specific questions about the mission or President Barack Obama’s decision to begin operations there. The mission appears designed to protect the rebellion against Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi.Manchin said even though Obama did not seek congressional approval to launch operations against Libya, he had been told the president had the authority to do so.”

(https://www.wvgazettemail.com/…/article_81ecbc65-dc81-575a-…)

I guess Congress is only really a necessary component if the POTUS is a Republican; a Democrat President has the legal authorization for not only one drone strike, but 563, and also to literally invade a country.

Did Manchin ever speak out against Obama, or criticize him for the 563 drone strikes in Pakistan, Somalia, and Yemen? Again 563. 563 drone strikes….. Not that I could find. To his credit, he did vote no for confirmation on the federal judgeship of the guy responsible for the memo authorizing Obama to drone strike a 16 year old American citizen, but other than that, crickets…..

Federal Judge Rules First Amendment Civil Rights Lawsuit against Richard Ojeda will proceed

Today we finally received a ruling in the Woolsey v. Ojeda civil rights lawsuit.  Here is the order we just now received from the federal judge:

Woolsey v. Ojeda, Memorandum Opinion and Order, January 30, 2019

The federal court found that Richard Ojeda was acting under color of law when he went on his Facebook Live tirade against my client, and also that by doing so in response to my client posting a critical video, if true, it was a violation of my client’s First Amendment rights:

In sum, under the facts pled in Plaintiff’s complaint, the totality of the circumstances points to a conclusion that Defendant acted under color of state law in both posting the response video to his official Facebook page and making a phone call to Plaintiff’s employer in an effort to have Plaintiff fired. Defendant’s motion to dismiss the complaint on this basis is therefore DENIED.

….

Plaintiff has demonstrated that in response to the video Plaintiff posted, Defendant contacted Plaintiff’s employer in order to pressure the owner to fire Plaintiff. Accordingly, Plaintiff has adequately pled a First Amendment violation, and Defendant’s motion to dismiss the complaint on this basis is DENIED.

This is a huge win for the constitutional rights of individual citizens, and is on its way to establish a new benchmark on the application of First Amendment rights to politicians and social media…..

Lawsuit filed against Senator Ojeda

UPDATE: 8/24/18:  We are still waiting on a ruling from the Court on the pending motion to dismiss.

Sen. Ojeda’s Motion to Dismiss

David Woolsey’s Response to Motion to Dismiss


 

You might have read about this case in the news, as did I, this past week:

Logan Man Fired After Posting Video of Ojeda

Fortunately I was subsequently hired by David Woolsey, the man who lost his job, to get involved.  I worked quickly to draft and file a federal lawsuit on behalf of David Woolsey and against West Virginia Senate member, and congressional candidate, Richard Ojeda.

Here is the video that started it all.

 

 

Here is the response video posted by Sen. Ojeda later that night, and then subsequently deleted:

 

 

The Complaint alleges retaliation by a public official against a private citizen’s First Amendment political expression.

Here is a copy of the Complaint which was filed yesterday:

David Woolsey v. Richard Ojeda, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia, Civil Action No. 2:18-cv-00745

Media Reports:

My radio interview with The Tom Roten Morning Show

Charleston Gazette-Mail

WV Record.

WOWK TV

Herald-Dispatch

Search and Seizure Case From Berkeley County In The News

Last week we filed a lawsuit in federal court on behalf of John W. Orem and his wife.  The Complaint alleges three civil rights violations: an illegal search, an illegal arrest, and an illegal violation of the right to privacy.

Former Berkeley County sheriff candidate sues state police

Former Berkeley Co. sheriff candidate sues police over drug arrest

Former Berkeley County Sheriff candidate files civil lawsuit against police

In the lawsuit, John Orem and his wife, Sher Orem, claim Trooper Matthew D. Gillmore, on Aug. 2, 2016, conducted an unreasonable search and seizure at their home in violation of the Fourth Amendment.

The civil suit requests the court to award damages against the defendants in an amount to be determined at a trial by jury for past, present and future medical expenses; past, present and future pain and suffering; loss of enjoyment of life; psychological and emotional distress; reasonable attorney fees and costs, as well as other compensatory and punitive damages.

John Orem told The Journal Tuesday that he did not want this to go this way.

“I made a complaint with (West Virginia State Police) and tried to get them to handle the issue within their department,” Orem said in an emailed statement. “Then after a year and never sending anyone out to look into the issue or speak to anyone, they said they see nothing wrong.

“So although all officers are human and make mistakes, I believe that we need to trust our law enforcement to self-police and correct errors. If they can’t do that, they force us to sue. Since the (West Virginia State Police) have immunity to civil suits, this is the only way to have them correct issues and help them to provide a better service to our community.”

Copy of the Complaint

This is the photo which was uploaded to social media, while Mr. Orem was still sitting handcuffed inside the Martinsburg state police detachment.  We allege this was taken and uploaded by employees of the West Virginia State Police in order to destroy Mr. Orem’s reputation and political campaign.

IMG_5936 (002)

The strategy worked well.  The arrest quickly made national headlines.

A few examples:

Sheriff’s candidate in West Virginia charged in heroin case – CBS News

Candidate For Sheriff In West Virginia Charged With Heroin Possession Authorities said they found John Orem unresponsive in his home. – Huffington Post

Mr. Orem was kept sitting on the bench for several hours prior to his arraignment – even though a magistrate was available to arraign him.  The Complaint alleges the delay was due to the fact that the State Police contacted the media, in order to be sure they were waiting with cameras to catch Mr. Orem being perp-walked into the courthouse, with the arresting officer proudly displaying his catch.  Here is a photo of the next morning’s newspaper:

57a0ccb5211b6-image

After both the prosecutor and the defense attorneys agreed that the arresting officer had performed an illegal search, and asked the court to dismiss the charge against Mr. Orem, this arresting officer wrote a letter to the court objecting to the dismissal.  The court ignored the letter and dismissed the charge.

The “Kramer Rule” to affect West Virginia jury trials?

There was a story that I saw yesterday in the Register-Herald titled “Berkeley delegate wants judges’ donations disclosed in trials.”  Apparently, as per a bill introduced by Delegate Jonathan Miller, “[b]efore the first shred of evidence is put before a jury, members would know how much — if anything — opposing attorneys dumped into the presiding judge’s campaign chest.”

What I want to get is disclosing contributions to sitting judges from attorneys, first and foremost,” Miller, R-Berkeley, said Monday. “They are very involved in these lower races, circuit judges and family court. And I want disclosure to be compelled.”

Miller is labeling his proposal the “Jim Kramer Rule,” named after the investment guru, who, under Securities Exchange Commission rules, must disclose his personal holdings before pitching any stock.

The proposed legislation purportedly would not apply to criminal cases – not that it would be constitutional anyways….  This legislation begs the question: what in the heck is the point of doing this?  The reason that we have a jury in civil trials in West Virginia, is to decide contested issues of fact.  Of course the lawyers always believe that the trial judge favors and/or helps one side or the other somewhat during the trial.  But from the point of view of the jury, the judge is supposed to be neutral, and is only assisting them in doing their job.  In fact, the judge will instruct them not to try and speculate as to what he thinks about the case.  To instruct the jury from the beginning on which lawyer contributed campaign donations would confuse the jury from the start, and would possibly cause prejudice to an innocent party.  The lawyer is only representing the client.  Now if the client has some sort of improper connection with the judge, that could be different, in which case there already exists a procedure for the recusal of a judge if there exists a conflict.

Regardless, there’s no way this legislation, if passed, would get through the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals – all of whom are judges who arrived where they are, in part, through campaign contributions.

 – John H. Bryan, West Virginia Attorney.

This blog quoted in yet another newspaper…

Just by chance, I glanced at Summers County’s the Hinton News, which I receive via mail once a week, and saw a rather long letter to the editor, attacking one candidate for Sheriff and promoting another. That’s not too unusual this time of year, but I noticed the last paragraph contained a quote from myself, as posted here back in February.

I would just like to note that I was making a broader point about small West Virginia counties and the elected position of Sheriff generally with regards to experience and origin, and I was not, nor currently am, supporting any particular candidate. Although I was saying something favorable towards this particular candidate, I was not contrasting this with the current opposition candidate, because at the time there were numerous other candidates running for the party nomination.

Of course, I don’t know that either candidate really wants the support of a criminal defense attorney anyways….

– John H. Bryan, West Virginia Attorney

Breaking News: candidates for Kanawha County Prosecuting Attorney Want to Reduce Dismissals

This breaking news was reported in the Charleston Daily Mail today. Reportedly, both candidates for Kanawha County Prosecuting Attorney want to reduce the number of dismissals in their county due to West Virginia’s one-year-out-from-indictment-and-the-case-is-dismissed rule. As they say, shoot for the stars….

Geez, I’ve got to start taking more cases in Kanawha County.

There are lots of excuses for this, such as too many cases and too little funding. However, as Rudyard Kipling said, “there are forty million reasons for failure, but not a single excuse.” Having worked as a prosecutor in an office that had a caseload that was many times larger than Kanawha County’s, I can’t remember one case ever getting dismissed based solely on neglect. Heck, we sometimes went through a thousand cases a day. I guess that if you wanted to set up a system that couldn’t manage the caseload, you could do it. And apparently Kanawha County has done it. The tough part is making it work. But that should be the status quo, not some great achievement.

– John H. Bryan, West Virginia Attorney