Judge Orders Man’s Guns Returned After Crazed Cops And State Of New Jersey Tried To Strip Him Of His Constitutional Rights For Being Disabled

May 12, 2012

ROCKAWAY, NEW JERSEY –  A blind New Jersey man is declaring victory in a legal battle over his gun collection.

The state confiscated his weapons citing safety, but now a judge’s order — citing the right to bear arms — means he will get them back.

Steven Hopler of Rockaway knows a lot about guns. The 49-year-old has been handling them since childhood, and practices regularly at a local gun range. His aim is incredible, especially considering he’s blind.

“I’ve handled guns for many years — being sighted and being blind — and I’ve never had a problem,” Hopler told CBS 2′s Derricke Dennis on Friday.

But four years ago, Hopler had an accident. He shot himself in the leg. Police responded and took six of his guns, citing safety concerns. They also accused him of drinking too much.

“They had taken the guns that were out in plain sight,” Hopler said.

That episode began a legal battle that wound up in Morris County Superior Court. Prosecutors argued Hopler shouldn’t have guns because he’s a danger. However, a judge ruled otherwise, saying his disability shouldn’t take away his constitutional right to bear arms.

Robert Trautman is Hopler’s attorney, and said police singled out his client.

“The state argued that Steve drinks too much.” Trautman said. “It’s just simply that the police didn’t want Steve Hopler to own firearms because he’s blind and they felt that was improper.”

In a statement, the Morris County prosecutor said “From the outset, there was concern as to whether Mr. Hopler was suitable to possess firearms…we are satisfied that we had our day in court…and no appeals will be filed.”

With the ordeal finally over, Hopler said the victory is about more than guns.

“I wouldn’t say power, [it’s] freedom,” he said.

The judge’s order said Hopler’s guns should now be returned. He’ll make arrangements on Monday.

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President Obama Has Laid Groundwork For What U.S. Representative Believes Will Be Attempt To Call “National Emergency” And Use Unconstitutional Authority

April 7, 2012

WASHINGTON, DC – A White House order updating federal emergency powers has raised alarm among some conservative commentators, and U.S. Rep. Sandy Adams, that President Barack Obama is attempting to grab unconstitutional powers.

A columnist with The Washington Times declared the mid-March order — an update of a 60-year-old document outlining the president’s authority in a national emergency — “stunning in its audacity and a flagrant violation of the Constitution.” The conservative Drudge Report website linked to it with the headline, “Martial Law?”

And Adams, R-Orlando, said it “leaves the door open for the president to give himself control over American resources during both times of peace, and national crisis.”

So Adams filed a nonbinding resolution specifying what Obama cannot do with the order — including institute a draft, confiscate personal property and “force civilians to engage in labor against their will or without compensation.”

But legal experts from both ends of the political spectrum said it’s a stretch — at best — to believe the order allows any of those powers.

As written, the executive order outlines the powers the president can exercise “in the event of a potential threat,” such as mobilizing for war. These range from the mundane, such as preparing disaster plans, to more robust authority that includes taking control of civil transportation and forcing U.S. companies to prioritize defense contracts.

All this has been on the books for decades. Experts on national-security law say the big difference between what Obama signed and the version in place since President Bill Clinton was in office is reference to the Department of Homeland Security, which wasn’t around then.

“It’s valid to be concerned that the president has too many powers that are justified by national-defense needs,” said Benjamin Friedman, a defense expert with the libertarian Cato Institute. “But this executive order doesn’t change much compared to prior executive orders that Republican and Democratic presidents have put in place.”

The last time the order was invoked in a major way was in January 2001, when Presidents Clinton and George W. Bush both utilized it to direct emergency supplies of electricity and natural gas to California in order to prevent blackouts.

“No one hollered dictator then,” said Peter Raven-Hansen, who teaches national-security law at George Washington University.

Adams, in a brief interview, said Obama’s order could unconstitutionally expand the president’s authority and cited as an example its inclusion of a section of the Stafford Act, which defines the government’s role in dealing with disasters.

“It is my first [term] in Congress. I know we are responsible for oversight,” she said.

But the section of the Stafford Act deals primarily with disaster preparation and training. In regard to civilian labor, it requires workers on construction projects be paid fair market wages and overtime if they work more than 40 hours in a week.

When asked how this could equate to civilians being forced into labor, an Adams spokeswoman said the congresswoman was trying to ensure there was “no misunderstanding as to the powers of the executive.”

Adams’ resolution has at least 37 co-sponsors, including six Florida Republicans: Gus Bilirakis, Jeff Miller, Richard Nugent, Dennis Ross, Steve Southerland and Allen West. It has yet to receive a committee hearing.

The bill is in line with her previous support of causes embraced by some hard-core conservatives. Last year, she introduced a bill to prohibit the use of foreign law in U.S. courts, though there is little evidence that’s happening. And Adams supports the indefinite detention of immigrant criminals who can’t be deported, despite objections of human-rights groups.

“Congresswoman Adams is doing what the GOP does best: pandering to tea-party extremists instead of helping businesses create jobs and grow our economy,” said David Bergstein, a spokesman for the Florida Democratic Party.

Adams denies any political motivation and said she was doing her duty to uphold the U.S. Constitution. Still, she is running in a tough Republican primary against veteran U.S. Rep. John Mica of Winter Park and is positioning herself as the hard-line conservative in that race.

Dropping a bill that feeds into the “existing narrative that he [Obama] is trying to expand government and take away people’s rights” is one way to do that, said Aubrey Jewett, a political scientist from the University of Central Florida.

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Painting Says It All

March 21, 2012

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So Much For The US Constitution Nutcase 7th Circuit Court Of Appeals Judges Say Warrantless Searches By Police Of Private Information In Cellphones Is Okay

March 7, 2012

DALLAS, TEXAS – Think about all the personal information we keep in our cell phones: It’s something to consider after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit ruled it is now legal for police to search cell phones without a warrant.

Former Dallas FBI Agent Danny Defenbaugh said the ruling gives law enforcement a leg up. “I think not only will it help them, but it could be life saving,” said the former Special Agent, who was based in Dallas.

The decision stems from an Indiana case where police arrested a man for dealing drugs. An officer searched the suspect’s cell phone without warrant.

The judge in the appeal case, Judge Richard Posner, agreed that the officer had to search the phone immediately or risk losing valuable evidence. Judge Posner ruled it was a matter of urgency, arguing it was possible for an accomplice to wipe the phone clean using a computer or other remote device.

Defenbaugh says the ruling takes into account exigent or time-sensitive circumstances that could be life saving in more urgent cases, such as child abduction. ”If the child is alive and you’re only minutes behind, that could be critical to recovering that child alive,” added Defenbaugh.

Judge Posner ruled that the search was legal because the officer conducted a limited search and only looked for phone numbers associated with the alleged drug deal. The judge argued it was similar to flipping through a diary to search for basic information such as addresses and phone numbers.

Paul Coggins is the former U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas. Coggins says the court’s ruling pushes the envelope on privacy issues and wonders if it opens the door to more extensive searches down the road. “Does that mean officers now have the right to search through your phone, search through your search history, your photographs, your e-mails and the rest, because it could all be wiped clean,” Coggins asked.

Many critics are asking the same question. They call the ruling an invasion of privacy that far outweighs the needs of law enforcement.

Both Defenbaugh and Coggins agree that the case is likely to go to the U.S. Supreme court.

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Huge Demand For Painting Of Obama Trampling U.S. Constitution Crashes Source’s Website

February 8, 2012

PROVO, UTAH – Sales soared for a painting depicting Obama trampling on the Constitution after a story CBS Las Vegas produced last weekend went viral.

John McNaughton’s “The Forgotten Man” sold in one day “what we would sell in three months.”

The amount of traffic the story generated even crashed his website.

“I hate to think of the sales I lost with the site being down, but I’m pleased that the message got out,” he told CBS Las Vegas.

His webmaster needed to increase the amount of bandwidth for the site four times before it went back up Saturday night.

While sales of the painting went up, McNaughton said he got reactions from a “mixed bag of people” over the story.

“People really loved the painting and some were really angry,” he told CBS Las Vegas. “Our country is really divided and emotions run high on both sides of the aisle.”

Because of the delicate subject matter raised in his art, McNaughton was often accused of racism.

“I think racism is a legitimate issue. But I think if you want to speak out against Obama and his policies is one thing, but being called a racist gets tiresome when it has nothing to do with the painting.”

McNaughton was hesitant to paint “The Forgotten Man” before it was released in 2010, but “pushed to do it” despite his friends’ reservations.

Since “The Forgotten Man” was released, McNaughton painted what he described as “a sequel.”

The painting is called “Wake Up America” and it features “The Forgotten Man” trying to saw himself out of the chains of debt.

Throughout the tableau there are faces of sadness, blame, and desperation. President Obama is also prominently featured as a ring leader to the madness.

McNaughton also did another painting called “Via Dolorosa” in which historical figures bear witness to Jesus’ crucifixion.

“A lot of it has to do with modern day Christians and where they stand in history,” McNaughton said about the painting.

As for his next work, McNaughton is keeping the details under wraps.

“It’s called ‘One Nation Under Socialism.’ It’s political, but I want to keep it under my hat. I want to surprise people so there are no misconceptions.”

“One Nation Under Socialism” will be released in about a month.

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Man Awarded 22 Million After Being Held 2 Years In Solitary Confinement Without Seeing A Judge Or Doctor By Dona Ana County New Mexico Authorities – For DWI…

January 26, 2012

DONA ANA COUNTY, NEW MEXICO – A man who spent two years in solitary confinement after getting arrested for DWI was awarded $22 million for suffering inhumane treatment in New Mexico’s Dona Ana County Jail.

Stephen Slevin was arrested in August of 2005 for driving while intoxicated, according to NBC station KOB.com. He said he never got a trial and spent the entire time languishing in solitary, even pulling his own tooth when he was denied dental care.

“‘[Prison officials were] walking by me every day, watching me deteriorate,” he said. “Day after day after day, they did nothing, nothing at all, to get me any help.”

Slevin said he made countless requests to see a doctor to get medication for his depression, but wasn’t allowed to see one until only a few weeks before his release. He also never got to see a judge.

The $22 million settlement, awarded by a federal jury on Tuesday, is one of the largest prisoner civil rights settlements in U.S. history, according to KOB.com.

“I wanted people to know that there are people at The Dona Ana County Jail that are doing things like this to people and getting away with it,” Slevin, who now suffers from PTSD and believes he will have to take medication for life as a result, said. “Why they did what they did, I have no idea.”

Neither the county nor Slevin’s attorney returned phone calls from msnbc.com, but Slevin’s attorney, Matt Coyte, told KOB.com, “I have never been with or seen a braver man who stood up to these guys for what they did to him … [This case] It affects everybody and it’s not good for this country. It’s not good for Mr. Slevin for sure and it’s not good for this country. It has to stop.”

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Michigan State Police Conducting Illegal Warrantless Searches Of Cellphones After Motorists Are Stopped For Minor Traffic Violations – Demand $544,000 To Tell ACLU Why And How

April 19, 2011

MICHIGAN – The Michigan State Police have a high-tech mobile forensics device that can be used to extract information from cell phones belonging to motorists stopped for minor traffic violations. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Michigan last Wednesday demanded that state officials stop stonewalling freedom of information requests for information on the program.

ACLU learned that the police had acquired the cell phone scanning devices and in August 2008 filed an official request for records on the program, including logs of how the devices were used. The state police responded by saying they would provide the information only in return for a payment of $544,680. The ACLU found the charge outrageous.

“Law enforcement officers are known, on occasion, to encourage citizens to cooperate if they have nothing to hide,” ACLU staff attorney Mark P. Fancher wrote. “No less should be expected of law enforcement, and the Michigan State Police should be willing to assuage concerns that these powerful extraction devices are being used illegally by honoring our requests for cooperation and disclosure.”

A US Department of Justice test of the CelleBrite UFED used by Michigan police found the device could grab all of the photos and video off of an iPhone within one-and-a-half minutes. The device works with 3000 different phone models and can even defeat password protections.

“Complete extraction of existing, hidden, and deleted phone data, including call history, text messages, contacts, images, and geotags,” a CelleBrite brochure explains regarding the device’s capabilities. “The Physical Analyzer allows visualization of both existing and deleted locations on Google Earth. In addition, location information from GPS devices and image geotags can be mapped on Google Maps.”

The ACLU is concerned that these powerful capabilities are being quietly used to bypass Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable searches.

“With certain exceptions that do not apply here, a search cannot occur without a warrant in which a judicial officer determines that there is probable cause to believe that the search will yield evidence of criminal activity,” Fancher wrote. “A device that allows immediate, surreptitious intrusion into private data creates enormous risks that troopers will ignore these requirements to the detriment of the constitutional rights of persons whose cell phones are searched.”

The national ACLU is currently suing the Department of Homeland Security for its policy of warrantless electronic searches of laptops and cell phones belonging to people entering the country who are not suspected of committing any crime.

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