ARRAIGNMENT OF JULY 20, 2010
On July 20, 2010, I appeared at Room 520, U. S.
District Courthouse, 500 Pearl Street, New York, NY 10007, as
instructed on the notices from the Central Violations Bureau. A
few others were also awaiting arraignments. I was either the 3rd
or 4th person to have his summons papers copied by the clerks.
Others continued to appear continually throughout the morning. In
spite of the fact that I was an early arrival, I was the last person
called for a meeting with the federal attorney. I was called at
at 12:00 noon, the last person to be called. I was taken to a
small room to meet with Homeland Security Officer Barnes, the arresting
officer, and Santosh Aravind, an Assistant U. S. Attorney for
I was not interested in mediation, so we entered the
courtroom about 5 minutes later. Another arraignment was being
finished. At 12:30 another arraignment was started and
adjourned. Mine was the last case left. Mr. Aravind asked
for a recess until 2:00 pm, because he did not have the
paperwork. Why a U. S. attorney appears at an arraignment without
the proper paperwork is not clear to me. Magistrate Judge Kevin
Nathaniel Fox granted the recess until 2:00 pm, and we went to lunch.
I returned at 2:00 pm, as did
Officer Barnes with Assistant U. S. Attorney Rebecca Mermelstein.
The court reporter appeared at 2:20 pm. Another man, presumably
the bailiff was sitting behind a computer in front of the judge’s
bench. Judge Fox appeared at 2:30 pm. Everyone was
instructed to rise, but I intentionally did not do so.
The judge took another case. During this case,
a court official gave me a financial form requesting my assets and
income. I refused to enter any information at all, including even
my name. I do have a Fifth Amendment right not to provide
information that might be used against me. The case being
arraigned was quite interesting. A woman plead guilty to
purchasing 100 pounds of heroin from undercover police who were
entrapping her to commit a crime. The judge informed her that she
could go to prison for up to 40 years and be fined up to $2 million.
Then started the inquisition. The judge asked
the woman many questions without informing her of her right to remain
silent. Was she aware of what she was doing? Was she
mentally competent? Had she been previously convicted of drug
use? What illicit drugs has she used? How long since she
has used any? When was the last use? Does she understand
what is going on? etc, etc.
One of the questions was particularly interesting.
Did she know that she was doing wrong? He did not ask her if she
knew that she was breaking the law? Thus he inflicted moral,
rather than legal, guilt. The woman mechanically answered as
expected to all the questions. Her lawyer, who was sitting next
to her approved of all of her answers.
Why did she, or her lawyer, permit her to plead
guilty and give the desired response to these questions? It did
not appear likely that a plea bargain had been struck, since the
prosecution had first hand information from the police, and the
defendant appeared to have no defense. The prosecuting attorney
admitted that she had extensive irrefutable evidence. Perhaps the
defendant was going to be a prosecution witness against her accomplices
for a reduced sentence.
Several things about this arraignment are bothersome:
How reliable would her testimony be against others, if she was
promised a reduced sentence to give evidence?
This woman had done nothing that should be legally wrong. She
purchased 100 pounds of poppy seed abstract. Why do we put people
in prison for buying flowers?
The real crime of entrapment was committed by the police. It is
they who should be the defendants. They were selling the heroin.
Why is a U. S judge acting as an inquisitor? Are we no longer
pretending that our courts are courts of law, and that they are acting
openly as courts of inquisition?
At 3:00 pm, this arraignment was terminated, and
another case was taken. At 3:10 pm, my case was called.
Judge Fox denied my two motions to dismiss the case because the
regulations were unconstitutional, and to order the government to
return my confiscated property. I pleaded not guilty, and asked
for a jury trial and a habeas corpus
hearing. I learned that Magistrate Judge Debra Freeman issued my
arrest warrant, that Magistrate Judge Frank Maas officiated at my
hearing of June 14, and that Magistrate Judge Henry Pitman would be the
presiding judge at my trial. The hearing ended at 3:20 pm.
After the hearing, I went to the Criminal Court of
Manhattan where I recovered the $210.00 the court owed me for three
years. Also I received a copy of the psychiatric exam of June 4,
2010. However it would not give me a voucher to reclaim my
confiscated property, which included my car keys, cell phone, pants,
sweater, cap, and sneakers, among other items. It took from 3:55
pm until 4:33 pm to accomplish this.